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News digest – predicted drop in cancer death rates, lasers, blood tests and… a cancer-detecting ‘breathalyser’?

by Gabriella Beer | Analysis

23 December 2016

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  • Our latest stats predict that cancer deaths will drop by 400,000 in the next 20 years, thanks to research. The Guardian, The Telegraph and many regional outlets covered the analysis. See our press release for more.
  • The BBC Radio 1 presenter, Nick Grimshaw, had a nosey around one of our cancer labs this week, calling the experience ‘mind blowing’. BBC’s Newsbeat has the full story.
  • A new test could help doctors make predictions around prognosis for pancreatic cancer patients. The findings, reported in The Telegraph and The Sun, may one day help in deciding to start or avoid treatment depending on a patient’s outlook.

Number of the week


The drop in cancer deaths over the next 20 years, thanks to research.

  • A new prostate cancer treatment using lasers and a drug made from deep-sea bacteria is safe to give to patients, according to a study that was reported widely this week. We blogged about the interesting results, and why calling them ‘truly transformative’ may be a little premature.
  • Our scientists in Cambridge developed a blood test that could help monitor ovarian cancer. This new test could eventually help doctors see how a patient is responding to treatment. Watch our animation below to find out how these so-called ‘liquid biopsies’ work, and read more in this blog post.

  • The Telegraph and Express reported on a ‘breathalyser’ that can detect smelly molecules linked to 17 different diseases, including cancer. In truth, it’s a lab device that detects chemical ‘signatures’ in breath samples. It’s certainly an intriguing idea, but it’s far too early to say if this technique can help detect cancer.

And finally

  • As 2016 comes to a close, we looked back on a very successful year of research, which, of course, would not have been possible without your generous donations and continued support. And we’ll be back in 2017 with a bumper edition, covering the cancer headlines over Christmas and the New Year.