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News digest – NCRI cancer conference, blood analysis, steaks and…tapeworm tumours?

by Nick Peel | Analysis

7 November 2015

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Adult Hymenolepis nana tapeworm.
  • This week saw some of the world’s most eminent cancer experts gathering in Liverpool for the annual NCRI cancer conference. We were there too, and blogged about the highlights from days one, two, three and four – including all the stories that made the headlines.
  • In non-conference news, our scientists found that analysing chunks of tumour DNA from patients’ blood could be used to track how breast cancers change as they grow and evolve. Here’s our press release, and the Express covered the findings.
  • Another blood-based study found that analysing DNA from tumours could help make predictions about whether a man might be resistant to the prostate cancer drug abiraterone. The BBC covered this, but the findings will need to be confirmed in much larger trials before a potential test could be used more widely.
  • The Telegraph looked at the risks and benefits of aspirin, something we’ve blogged about extensively.

Number of the week


The number of times scientists at the NCRI conference mentioned an exciting gene-editing technology called CRISPR.

  • Meat was back in the news as a study found that people who eat red and processed meat at least seven times a week are 40 per cent more likely to get bowel cancer compared to those who eat meat once a week or less. The Telegraph and Mail Online have the details, and read our recent blog post for more info on meat and cancer risk.
  • This opinion piece from the Independent questioned the cost of new cancer drugs.
  • Scientists in London are testing out high-power sound waves as a possible way of killing cancer cells. The Guardian has more.
  • Roche cut the price of the breast cancer drug trastuzumab emtansine (Kadcyla), so it’s back on the Cancer Drugs Fund list. The BBC was among the many media outlets to cover the announcement.
  • This Guardian article looks at how scorpion venom is being modified to help scientists see tumour cells more clearly.
  • ‘Cancer could be diagnosed from just a single drop of blood,’ according to the Metro. But this very early stage study was way too small to justify this claim.

And finally

  • In a tragic but ‘unique’ medical first, a man with HIV has died after cancer cells from a parasitic tapeworm developed into tumours. The Verge and BBC have the details.