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News digest – Nose swabs, ups and downs for engineered immune cells, ‘grab and go’ food and… ‘sticky’ cells?

by Catherine Pickworth | Analysis

4 March 2017

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A dog's nose
  • After smoking, being overweight is the biggest preventable cause of cancer. A new study, reported by the Guardian, added to what we already know about the link between obesity and some types of cancer. Read more about the three leading theories on how obesity causes cancer in this blog post.
  • US scientists predict that taking a nose swab could help detect lung cancer in people at a higher risk following a CT scan. We covered this, as did the Daily Mail.
  • Public Health England want to help people stop smoking by making the NHS a ‘supportive tobacco-free environment’, reported BBC News and the Daily Mail. This includes offering carbon monoxide screening for expectant mothers, according to the Guardian.
  • 100 million takeaways and ready meals are eaten by adults in the UK every week, according to a survey we published. The TimesMirror and ITV News were among those that covered the figures, and our press release has more info.
  • blood test every 4 months may help detect ovarian cancer at an earlier stage in high-risk women, according to the Daily Mail and BBC News. But more research is needed to see if screening high risk women in this way will actually save lives.

Number of the week

100 million

The number of takeaways and ready meals eaten each week in the UK.

  • Two pieces of US research hinted at new approaches to immunotherapy. Medical News Today reported on a study that tracked the rare immune cells most effective at killing cancer cells after they had been extracted from a patient, altered in the lab and then given back to the patient.
  • But another company called an end to its trial of CAR T-cells for leukaemia following the deaths of several patients as a result of treatment. STAT News has the details, highlighting how much there still is to learn about immunotherapy.
  • Taking cholesterol-lowering statins doesn’t benefit lung cancer patients when used alongside chemotherapy, according to a study we funded. Our news report has the details.
  • Research covered by the Mirror claimed that following surgery for breast cancer, women could do better taking the drug Herceptin for just 9 weeks, rather than the recommended 12 months. But this study only gave 54 women the shorter treatment, so it’s too early to say if this approach could be an effective part of breast cancer treatment.
  • Our scientists are trying to help GPs pinpoint hard-to-detect cancers, allowing quicker diagnosis where cancer is present and peace of mind where it isn’t, reports the Yorkshire Post.
  • Mathematical analysis of prostate cancer sample data may help doctors tell if a cancer is aggressive and potentially fatal or if it is low risk and can be monitored. ITV News has more on this.

And finally

  • Measuring the ‘stickiness’ of cancer cells could indicate if the cells are likely spread or not, a new study suggested. This early research showed that if cancer cells in the lab were stuck less to the cells around them, they were more likely to move around and spread, reported BBC News.