This week saw the big names in cancer research gathering in the US for the annual American Association for Cancer Research conference – and some promising results hit the headlines, especially for immunotherapies:

  • Two immunotherapy drugs could be better than one – at least for a subset of patients with advanced melanoma. TIME magazine covered this.
  • And the Mail Online featured the staggering response of one particular patient who was on the trial.
  • Another immunotherapy drug showed promising early results, again in melanoma patients. And it might also be useful in treating a certain type of lung cancer. Forbes and The Wall Street Journal have more on this one.
  • Early results showed that certain men with advanced prostate cancer may benefit from olaparib – a drug originally developed to treat breast and ovarian cancers (with help from our scientists). The Telegraph and the Mail Online also covered the story.
  • Away from the conference, more data emerged suggesting that it may be possible to design ‘personalised vaccines’ to help treat certain types of cancer. The Independent and Mail Online covered this, but it’s still in the very early stages of development.
  • And in more vaccine news, the Mail Online covered a very early stage study looking to test whether a jab could prime the body’s immune to spot prostate cancer if it comes back.
  • UK scientists found that daily use of newer ‘tank’-style e-cigarettes could have a greater impact on how likely a person is to quit tobacco, compared to ‘cigalike’ models. The Guardian covered this, but studies designed to directly test the effectiveness of these devices in helping people quit will be needed before any firm conclusions can be drawn.

Number of the week:


Our team of 2,500 runners will be running a total of 65,500 miles across London on Sunday in this year’s marathon, which is the equivalent to two and a half times around the world

  • A couple of news outlets covered research into the health impact of vitamin supplements. But the increased risk of cancer the researchers saw only appeared in people who took more than the recommended daily dose. There’s more info about vitamin supplements on our website.
  • The Mail Online ran this article about self-checking for testicular cancer. But there were some inaccuracies – it’s not about when and how you check, just knowing what’s normal for you. We’ve got more information about this on our website.
  • Eating close to bedtime ‘could raise the risk of breast cancer‘, according to this report in the Mail Online. But the study didn’t actually look at cases of breast cancer, instead it studied eating patterns of American women and how these affected their blood sugar levels. And most of the results could have been down to chance.
  • Gizmag covered this intriguing research, showing that engineering pancreatic cancer cells in the lab to produce a particular protein could make them behave more like normal cells again. But it’s really early days, using techniques that can only be carried out on cells grown in the lab.
  • There are big regional variations in England when it comes to diagnosing bowel cancer early, according to data released by the charity Beating Bowel Cancer. The BBC has more on this.
  • The Mail Online got a little hyper, claiming that a paper by European scientists showed that coffee ‘can cut risk of breast cancer tumours returning’. This NHS Choices article had a more decaffeinated take – read it here.
  • There was a lot of coverage of the US launch of a new type of gene test for women at high risk of breast cancer. This excellent article from Wired has the context that was missing from many articles (and the company’s own website).
  • Some interesting early lab research found that an ‘injectable lab’ device could offer a way to test multiple different drugs at the same time. New Scientist covered this, but it’s a bit too early to make any claims about how this could be used in patients.
  • Could broccoli prevent cancer, as the Telegraph suggests? That’s going further than what the research says, given that it only showed that a purified extract of the cruciferous veg protected laboratory mice from oral cancer.
  • We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, so-called ‘superfoods’ don’t exist. More on our website.

And finally

  • A large US analysis confirmed that there’s no safe way to smoke tobacco, showing that cigars also carry big health risks. Amusingly, the Mail Online covered the story not once but TWICE – but with a different, conflicting, headline each time. CNBC had a better, more balanced take here.



Syringe from Flickr, under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0