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News digest – meat week, late diagnosis, herpes cancer treatment and…how many things cause cancer?

by Nick Peel | Analysis

31 October 2015

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  • It was hard to miss this week’s top story as the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) announced that processed meat is a ‘definite’ cause of cancer. The media went crazy, but missed the real meat of the story – that there’s a difference between the strength of the evidence and the size of the risk. We’ve got it covered in this blog post.
  • Our latest stats showed that there is ‘unacceptable’ variation across England in the stage at which cancers are being diagnosed. The BBC, Guardian and Mail Online were among the many media outlets to cover the figures.
  • A small UK clinical trial has found that a drug developed to target inherited gene faults could benefit some men whose prostate cancer has spread. We covered this, as did the BBC and NHS Choices.
  • Lung cancer experts in Wales claimed there are ‘unacceptable’ differences in patient care across the country. The BBC has more.

Number of the week


The number of ‘definite’ causes of cancer on IARC’s list, including processed meat.

  • The Independent featured genetically engineered veg that produce particular chemicals on an industrial scale. Still doesn’t mean these super tomatoes can beat cancer though.
  • An experimental cancer therapy using a modified form of the herpes virus received US approval for treating people with melanoma whose tumours can’t be removed through surgery. The Guardian covered this, and we’ve blogged about the treatment before.
  • When is a breakthrough not a breakthrough? US research questioned the language that is sometimes used to describe new cancer drugs, and NPR has the details.
  • The Mirror covered US research claiming that low doses of chemicals called parabens might be linked to breast cancer. But based on all the available research, there’s no convincing evidence that these chemicals do cause cancer.
  • A US laboratory study found that a specialised form of immunotherapy could prove effective in patients with pancreatic cancer. Our news report has the details.

And finally