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News digest – cancer conferences, military metaphors, off-patent drugs and more

by Henry Scowcroft | Analysis

8 November 2014

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The big event of the week – in cancer research terms – was the NCRI cancer research conference in Liverpool.

Aside from all the conference news, there were plenty of other cancer stories in the news this week…

  • Could off-patent drugs be used to treat diseases like breast cancer? A new Bill in parliament aims to get the government to step in when the pharma industry is reluctant to fund trials. The BBC and the Independent covered the story, and Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive of Breast Cancer Campaign, blogged about it in the Huffington Post.
  • Researchers in Australia made an intriguing observation about drugs called bisphosphonates, suggesting they might be helpful in treating cancer. The Independent has more.
  • Doctors should avoid using ‘military’ metaphors like ‘fighting’ and ‘beating’ when discussing things with their patients, according to a story in the Independent.
  • The BBC reported that the health minister in Wales has ruled out a Welsh version of the Cancer Drugs Fund.
  • And the Beeb also ran a couple of excellent features on the pharmaceutical industry.
  • Google’s cancer ‘nanodetector’ came in for some much-needed sober analysis. Here’s Wired’s piece, and here’s our take.
  • The New York Times looked at overdiagnosis of thyroid cancer in South Korea.
  • The Telegraph ran a piece looking at ‘5 ways to reduce your risk of breast cancer’.
  • A medical mystery – why are bowel cancer rates increasing in younger people in the US (they’re not on this side of the pond)? Forbes investigates.
  • The Mirror and the Daily Mail report on the entry of private healthcare firms into NHS cancer services.
  • A book about cancer was short-listed for the Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books. The Guardian reviewed it.
  • To mark the beginning of lung cancer awareness month, the American Association for Cancer Research published a blog post looking at immunotherapy in lung cancer.
  • The UK Bioindustry Association’s blog had this guest post about our collaboration with MedImmune to develop so-called ‘biotherapeutics’ (and here’s our explainer too).

And finally…

Last week, several newspapers carried stories about how the UK’s cancer survival “IS GETTING WORSE”, despite official statistics showing it is, in fact, improving for most cancer types. We looked into the story, to try to pin down the source of the inaccuracy… the answer will surprise you.