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News digest – cancer cells’ ‘safety catch’, a smartphone cancer app for doctors, lung cancer blood tests and… chocolate?

by Catherine Pickworth | Analysis

10 December 2016

1 comment 1 comment

  • Researchers uncovered a ‘safety catch’ inside cancer cells that stops them dividing before they’re ready. Targeting this molecule in the lab caused cells to divide prematurely and die, reports the Mail Online.
  • A new smartphone app was launched this week to help doctors assess scans that may show signs of lung cancer. Read more about the app, which we developed in partnership with the British Thoracic Society, in our press release and on our blog.
  • The immunotherapy drug Nivolumab received a licence in Europe to treat people with a type of blood cancer called Hodgkin lymphoma, report The Sun and Express. The drug releases the brakes on the immune system so it can fight tumours, a strategy effective in treating advanced skin cancer. It will now need to be assessed by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) (to cover England, Wales and Northern Ireland) and the Scottish Medicines Consortium to see whether it should be made available on the NHS to patients in the UK.
  • According to reports in the Mirror and Times, scientists in Scotland have developed a blood test that could spot signs of lung cancer ‘up to 5 years before chest scans’. But it’s too early to know whether the test saves lives or how the potential risks and benefits stack up. There needs to be more research before it could be used by doctors to help find lung cancer in the future.

Number of the week

200 million

The amount NHS England has invested in local cancer services

  • The US Surgeon General called e-cigarettes a ‘major public health concern’. The Daily Mail, BBC and Telegraph reported he’s worried the devices will lead to young people taking up smoking. But there isn’t good evidence to back this up, and in the UK the evidence shows that e-cigarettes could help people stop smoking.
  • The UK government has now published draft legislation on the sugar tax, as the BBC and Times reported. While it’s not law yet, companies are already reducing the amount of sugar in their drinks. With obesity the second biggest preventable cause of cancer after smoking, this is great news – as our blog post explains.
  • Combining two drugs could help some breast cancer patients with advanced cancer live longer, according to the results of a small clinical trial presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Conference in the US. As we reported, if the results hold true in larger studies, more work will be needed to manage the tougher side effects of the combined drugs.
  • NHS England announced a £200 million investment to improve local cancer services. The fund hopes to improve early diagnosis and give more support to those living with cancer. Simon Stevens, NHS England’s chief executive, also announced the 15 hospitals that will be the first to receive the latest radiotherapy machines, as we and Pharma Times reported.

And finally

  • ‘Eating chocolate, biscuits and bread while suffering from cancer makes the disease more deadly’, according to misleading headlines from the Daily Mail and Express. While the important study featured in these reports is a potential step towards new treatments, it was far from saying cancer patients shouldn’t be eating chocolate. Find out what the study showed, and how it relates to patients, on our blog.


  • Mobile cases
    20 January 2017

    i hope may this smart cancer app will help more and more doctors and patients


  • Mobile cases
    20 January 2017

    i hope may this smart cancer app will help more and more doctors and patients