It’s been a bumper week, after research presented at the annual American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) conference in Chicago dominated headlines. Here are the key stories.

  • Kicking off the week was a Cancer Research UK-funded trial showing that combination chemotherapy improved long-term survival for pancreatic cancer patients. The BBC and Guardian were among the many outlets which covered this, and here’s our press release.
  • Another study we funded, presented at the conference, showed how using a specialised stent during bowel surgery can mean patients avoiding a colostomy bag. Here’s our press release, and the BBC’s coverage.
  • And the third prominent Cancer Research UK study at the conference looked at reducing the amount of radiotherapy needed to effectively treat a form of lung cancer called small-cell lung cancer. The Mirror reports, and again, here’s our press release.
  • One of the themes dominating the conference was ‘personalised’ medicine, and several presentations showed how cancer treatment is entering a ‘new era’ of precision-engineered and tailored treatments. The Economist took an in-depth look – here’s our coverage.
  • Another new trend emerging from Chicago was how doubling-up on cancer immunotherapy drugs can boost their effectiveness (but also their side-effects). We covered this, as did the Daily Mail.
  • Part of the challenge of using these new drugs is that doctors still don’t know who will and who won’t respond to them. Research presented at the conference suggests that measuring the degree of genetic chaos inside tumour cells might yield clues – particularly for bowel and bladder cancers, as we report here.
  • A large trial showed that women who have had treatment for early stage breast cancer, and who stay on oestrogen-blocking drugs for an five extra years have an even lower risk of their cancer returning. We covered this as did the Guardian, BBC, Daily Mail and others.
  • The Independent reported results of a small study suggesting that a mediterranean diet could help prevent breast cancer recurrence. The study reinforces earlier work which suggests diet may play an important role in cutting cancer risk. But much longer follow-up than three years is needed to confirm the diet’s impact.
  • A study looking at the cost of cancer drugs found that prices were highest in the US but were least affordable in developing countries. STAT news reported this, as did we.
  • Announced at the conference, a large trial in Canada and the US will examine whether the chances of cancer coming back can be reduced by losing weight. BBC and the Guardian have more details.
  • And the BBC was one of many sources to report on US Vice President Joe Biden’s ASCO speech about the ‘cancer moonshoot’, and how he thinks the search for cancer cures should be treated with the same level of urgency as the Ebola outbreak.
  • Yoga can help cancer survivors sleep and improves their emotional well-being, reports the Telegraph and the Mirror.
  • And Health News Review looked at flaws in reporting of stories on so-called ‘liquid biopsies’ from the conference

Away from the conference there were many other cancer-related stories this week.

Number of the week


The number of different forms of acute myeloid leukaemia discovered in a study this week

  • The Telegraph and Guardian, among others, reported on a study which found a blood cancer, acute myeloid leukemia, is at least 11 distinct diseases. The study comes as part of a growing trend of classifying cancers into different subtypes based on the faulty genes that cause them. We also covered this story.
  • While the MRC’s Insight blog looked at how their scientists in Oxford are working on a new therapy for the disease
  • Our scientists are making a bubbly drink that contains oxygen microbubbles that could make treatments more potent for hard-to-treat tumours. BBC covered this, and here’s our press release.
  • We published a report outlining the steps the Welsh government should take to improve its cancer services. The BBC covered this, and we went into depth on the issue on our blog.
  • The latest findings of the National Cancer Patient Experience Survey were published. We dug into the findings in this blog post, while the UK’s National Director for Patients and the Public in Research, Simon Denegri, looked at the questions it raised.
  • Researchers in Glasgow found a new drug combination that killed the cells that cause chronic myeloid leukaemia. However the research is in mice so it’s still early days. The Express has more details.
  • While summer has been elusive so far, we hold out hope that the week will come where the sun will finally appear. Make sure you’re clued up by checking out our blog post that does some serious myth-busting about sun safety.
  • A new, simpler bowel cancer screening kit is being rolled out in England, which could save lives as more people take up the offer of screening. We covered this welcome news, as did the MailOnline.
  • Technology has shown to be a key player in treating cancer. The New York Times had this story on how Microsoft scientists tried to identify internet users who have pancreatic cancer, even before they have received a diagnosis of the disease by looking at their internet search histories.
  • And the BBC had this story on how scientists used artificial intelligence to help develop a drug that slowed the growth of cancer in clinical trials.

And finally…

An online row erupted after Noel Edmonds made some unfortunate comments about cancer being caused by stress and ‘negative energy’, and claimed that a device emitting low-frequency electromagnetic energy waves could tackle the disease. We blogged about the (lack of) evidence about all this, while Guardian has a great opinion piece too.