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News digest – treatment targets missed, prostate cancer and obesity, liquid hand soap and more

by Nick Peel | Analysis

22 November 2014

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  • We published new figures showing that 15,000 extra children survived cancer thanks to improvements since the 1970s. Our press release has the details and here’s an article from the Mail Online.
  • Disappointing news: new figures showed that waiting time targets for cancer treatment have been missed for the third consecutive quarter. This means patients are being failed. The BBC covered this.
  • We don’t often get to say ‘huge breakthrough’, but in this case it seems warranted. Researchers have made a big step forward in understanding how to improve cancer immunotherapy. Read more about this exciting discovery in this blog post from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre
  • The country’s health watchdog, NICE, issued new draft guidance on how to spot early signs and symptoms of cancer, which it says could save thousands of lives a year. Here’s the Guardian’s take.
  • A new assessment of the evidence on which lifestyle factors are linked to prostate cancer found that men who are overweight or obese are at greater risk of ultimately developing an aggressive form of prostate cancer. The Mail Online and the Guardian covered the report, and we blogged about the findings.
  • One of our scientists wrote this article in The Conversation, about how he’s tracking down the ‘missing pages’ of cancer’s genetic story. We also published a version of the article here.
  • The BBC explored the challenge of tackling rising cancer rates in China.
  • A small survey from Breast Cancer Care questioned the amount of advice women with breast cancer are receiving in relation to fertility after treatment. The BBC and the Guardian have more on this.
  • The Mail Online discussed whether doctors should combine removal of the fallopian tubes with other surgical procedures to help reduce a woman’s chances of developing ovarian cancer once they have had children, if she’s at high risk of developing the disease. But there’s still more work needed to see if there would be any benefit to these recommendations.
  • Scientists have successfully used an experimental drug to prolong the lives of mice with an aggressive form of childhood brain cancer.
  • Early stage research from the US found that a new drug combination could be used to target tumour cells carrying a common genetic fault. eCancer has more.
  • Could publishing NHS statistics relating to cancer, including patient outcomes and figures linked to surgery, improve things for patients? The Mail and the Telegraph were among many newspapers to cover this.
  • Our scientists mapped the shape of an important protein linked to the development of the nervous system and cancer. This news report from the Institute of Cancer Research has the details.
  • As part of a review of a new book, The Guardian gave a whistle-stop tour of the p53 protein – otherwise known as ‘the guardian of the genome – that protects cells from becoming cancerous, (and which our scientists discovered).
  • The BBC featured breast cancer patient Rina who is celebrating the doctors, nurses, family and friends who are supporting her throughout her treatment with a photography exhibition. We covered where the idea came from and what it means to Rina in this blog post.

And finally

  • Could your liquid hand gel be harming your health? …asked several alarmist articles following a study on mice developing liver cancer. The answer? As one expert commented: “Studies in primates showed no liver damage at doses greater than those used in the present study… Whilst it is possible that the carcinogenic effect in mice is relevant to humans, it should be noted that mouse liver tumours are induced by many chemicals, and often they are not relevant to humans.” NHS Choices gives it a proper going over.



liquid soap image by Andre Roberto Doreto Sa, accessed via Flickr under a Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0 license