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News digest – ‘bad luck’, cancer drugs, 2.5 million people living with cancer and more

by Nick Peel | Analysis

10 January 2015

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What's luck got to do with it?

It’s a New Year, and after a short break we’re back with a bumper edition of the top cancer news stories from the last couple of weeks.

  • More than half a million cases of cancer could have been prevented in the last five years if people had healthier lifestyles. Our new statistics received widespread media coverage, and we blogged about the figures.
  • But some unfortunate and distracting reporting challenged the role of lifestyle in cancer – and you probably saw the news about cancer being ‘mainly bad luck’ plastered across the headlines. The research behind this was interesting, but it definitely doesn’t show that healthy lifestyle choices have no role to play – at least for some. More in this blog post.
  • Ahead of an official announcement next week, The BBC, Guardian and Telegraph, among others, reported on how pharmaceutical companies are already reacting to their drugs being dropped from NHS England’s controversial Cancer Drugs Fund.
  • There was widespread media coverage of new figures showing that 2015 will see an estimated 2.5 million people living with cancer in the UK – due to an ageing population and better diagnosis and treatment.
  • Our scientists found that almost 40 per cent of people who have abnormal results from bowel cancer screening tests ignore their next screening invitation two years later. Here’s the press release for more info.
  • Our scientists in Manchester showed the protein ‘ties’ that tether cells together can be severed between lung cancer cells, which could help them move and spread.
  • A controversial opinion piece about dying from cancer sparked some distressing headlines for patients and people affected by the disease.
  • Our scientists are in the early stages of developing some interesting new drugs for melanoma. The Guardian has more on this one, and NHS Choices took an in-depth look at the findings.
  • The shape-shifting ability of certain moving cancer cells could be controlled by a particular collection of signalling molecules, according to a new study from our researchers that featured in New Scientist.
  • Nearly 4,000 health professionals expressed their disappointment in Government delays on the introduction of plain, standardised packaging for cigarettes.
  • A new report added further weight to the evidence supporting the introduction of plain packs.
  • And the power of price increases on tobacco sales was evident in South Korea (with an interesting impact on e-cigarette sales).
  • Cases of lung cancer in women in Wales are increasing, according to a report picked up by the BBC.
  • The Telegraph explored new Government investment in studying cancer genetics.
  • Our scientists at the Institute of Cancer Research in London are developing new software that could help detect interesting changes in cell shape in cancer cells.
  • A survey found that more than half of the British public are unaware of the link between alcohol consumption and cancer.
  • US scientists discovered that combining radiotherapy and hormone therapy may benefit older patients whose prostate cancer has begun to spread.
  • One of our Citizen Science projects featured in this article from the Guardian on tech innovations that could improve lives.
  • A study looking at night shift work found a modest link between working nights for 15 years or more and a higher risk of dying from lung cancer.

And finally

  • Christmas dinner may be a distant memory now, but it’s worth revisiting in light of this festive treat from the Daily Express featuring the “cancer fighting potential” of Brussels’ sprouts. There’s limited but intriguing evidence that highly purified chemicals from ‘cruciferous’ veg – the wider plant family that sprouts are part of – can have an effect on cancer cells, but that’s a long way from saying that eating loads of them is a good idea.