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News digest – Breast cancer drug combo, melanoma ‘blood test’, Fukushima and… carbs?

by Nick Peel | Analysis

12 March 2016

1 comment 1 comment

  • Results from a European breast cancer conference made a splash this week. First, a small Cancer Research UK-funded trial found that a two drug combo given before surgery can shrink, and even (in some women) potentially destroy, breast tumours. This made the front pages of several papers – here’s our press release, and this blog post explains all you need to know.
  • Also at the conference, our researchers presented results showing that focusing radiotherapy on the area from where a breast tumour was removed could help reduce long-term side effects from treatment. The Mail Online and Express covered this, and here’s our press release.
  • Closer intervals between chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer could give tumour cells less time to recover, potentially boosting patient survival, according to another study presented at the conference. The Telegraph has the details.
  • Australian and Italian scientists found that specialised 3D-scanning techniques may help spot cancers in more dense breasts, reports the Guardian. But like all screening techniques, it has harms as well as benefits, so further research is needed to work out how these stack up.
  • And a diabetes drug could reduce the chances of developing denser breasts, according to more research from the conference. Here are the reports from the Telegraph and Mail Online.

Number of the week


The number of cases of disease that we predict could be caused by smoking by 2035, according to our new report

  • As the average age for becoming a new mother increases, more women are predicted to have a breast cancer diagnosis coincide with, or just after, pregnancy, according to the final bit of conference news. The Telegraph has more on this one.
  • Away from the conference, our scientists in Manchester found that analysing tumour DNA in patient blood samples could help doctors monitor how melanomas are responding to different treatments. The Mail Online covered this, and here’s our press release.
  • Our researchers found that the UK diagnoses Wilms’ tumours – the most common children’s kidney cancer – when they are larger and more advanced compared with those diagnosed in Germany. Here’s our press release for more info.
  • Many smokers who want to kick the habit now turn to e-cigarettes as part of their quitting plans, according to an analysis featured in the Mail Online and Telegraph.
  • This article from The Conversation looks at the challenges facing people from poorer backgrounds in tackling obesity.
  • This excellent article from Wired explores why the rise in thyroid cancer cases following the Fukushima nuclear disaster wasn’t necessarily what it seemed.
  • And the International Business Times also looked at the health implications of Fukushima five years on from the disaster.
  • Debates around a possible ban on e-cigarettes in certain places in Wales rage on, according to ITV News.
  • Our latest predictions suggest that around 1.35 million new cases of smoking-related illnesses are expected to occur over the next 20 years if current smoking rates continue. The Express covered this, and we blogged about why this shows that tobacco isn’t a ‘done deal’.
  • This opinion piece in the Guardian discussed the use of language in response to research about lifestyle and cancer risk.
  • A poll found that awareness of the link between processed meat and cancer has increased following last year’s high-profile announcement from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).
  • The exact location prostate cancer cells spread to within the body could make a difference to how a patient subsequently fares, according to calculations from multiple clinical studies. STAT News has the details.

And finally

  • “Are CARBS the new cigarettes?” Shouts the Mail Online. Unsurprisingly, the answer is no. The study featured in the article reported a link between eating a diet with a high glycaemic index – a measure of carb content – and lung cancer. Although this study doesn’t provide evidence, the link does need exploring more. This NHS Choices article does a great job of explaining the story behind the headline.



  • Philip James
    12 March 2016

    If carbs are the main feeder of the cells they are


  • Philip James
    12 March 2016

    If carbs are the main feeder of the cells they are