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News digest – ovarian cancer screening, charity spending claims, luck and…an oily fish binge?

by Nick Peel | Analysis

19 December 2015

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What's luck got to do with it?
  • The long-awaited results of a trial of ovarian cancer screening, which we helped support, couldn’t give a definitive answer – the researchers want to keep following up the women involved for a few more years to see if it really does save lives. The BBC had our pick of the coverage, and we blogged about the findings.
  • Misleading claims about charity spending appeared in the Daily Telegraph. We explain why the interpretation of the figures was dodgy in this blog post.
  • A year after the media reported that cancer was mainly down to the ‘bad luck’ of random genetic errors, a new analysis suggested that many genetic errors are caused by external factors, such as things linked to lifestyle. The BBC has more on this.
  • The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) published new NHS guidelines on end of life care. The BBC and Guardian were among the many media outlets to cover the announcement, and we’ve blogged about this before.
  • This article from The Conversation explores concerns around high rates of alcohol consumption on the gay scene.
  • And the Daily Telegraph covered the health effects of alcohol.
  • A small US study found that a virus-based immune therapy could cause prostate cancer cells to commit suicide, but it’s still early days. The BBC has more on this.
  • Cancer treatment targets were missed by several Scottish NHS boards from July to September. The BBC has the story.

Number of the week


The number of women recruited to the ovarian cancer screening trial that hit the headlines this week.

  • The Guardian ran this interesting opinion piece on women’s experiences of the menopause, and the complex, often confusing, issue of getting balanced information about the benefits and risks of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). We’ve blogged about this before, and you can also find out more information about HRT on our website.
  • The Independent has the story of how the drug thalidomide is being repurposed as a potential cancer treatment.
  • Vice News and NPR looked at the rising burden of cancer in the developing world.
  • Bloomberg looks at the challenge of paying for cancer treatment in China.
  • The Conversation asked what it means to say someone is ‘cured’ of cancer (and could immunotherapy be changing how much we talk about this?).
  • And Health News Review also took a look at the same topic, reflecting on some rather overblown headlines about former US president Jimmy Carter.
  • US scientists are investigating how chemicals purified from magic mushrooms might help tackle depression among cancer patients. The Mail Online has more on this.

And finally

  • A milk, cheese or oily fish binge won’t stop bowel cancer spreading, despite what this Mirror report of early stage lab research suggests. The study actually used a highly purified form of Vitamin A – found in these foods – on laboratory models of bowel cancer.