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News digest – radiotherapy and Brexit, public health services under strain, bacteria behaving badly and… coffee extends life?

by Justine Alford | Analysis

15 July 2017

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  • Splashed across many headlines this week were findings from a new report on annual cancer diagnoses in the UK, which found the number of new cases to be higher than certain life events such as marriage and having a first baby. This came from Macmillan Cancer Support as part of their campaign to try to lower worries about cancer diagnosis.
  • A drug that stops tumours spreading could soon be available to people with advanced kidney cancer, after NICE approved it for use on the NHS. Reported by the BBC, the life-extending treatment cabozantinib (Cometriq) could give some patients many extra months of life.
  • Essential public health services, including Stop Smoking Services, are facing worrying budget cuts, the Independent reports. Smoking causes at least 14 types of cancer and these services give people the best chance of beating their addiction, so join our campaign to help secure their future.
  • Brexit could put some radiotherapy treatments under threat, as leaving the EU could affect access to certain types of radiation used in the therapy. Buzzfeed News has the details, and we’ve just published the first part of our new radiotherapy series where you can find out more about the treatment.

Number of the week

85 million

The pounds that public health services will have slashed from their budget in the UK

  • New research into immunotherapy is truly out of this world. The International Space Station has started experiments on a potential new immune-boosting treatment, tells us, as the lack of gravity helps cells grow in a way that’s closer to what goes on inside our bodies.
  • The Times and Independent were among many to report on a new study’s conclusion that men who are tall, overweight or obese have an increased risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer and dying from the disease. But, as we told the Guardian, the link between being overweight or obese and a higher risk of aggressive forms of the disease still isn’t clear cut.
  • Turning a patient’s immune cells into cancer-fighting weapons could soon become an approved treatment in the US for certain blood cancers, after it was recommended by a panel of outside experts to the US Food and Drug Administration. According to The New York Times and others, that could make this exciting ‘CAR-T cell’ therapy the first of its kind to get approval by the FDA.
  • Blame the bacteria: a new study on cells and mice has suggested that a type of bacteria could play a role in promoting the growth of colon cancer, New Scientist and Science News report. If the work is eventually found to be true in humans, this could point towards new ways to treat the disease, such as using antibiotics – though this is some way off.

And finally

  • Coffee lovers rejoiced this week after two new studies suggested a link between the beverage and a lower risk of death from a range of diseases, including cancer and heart disease. While this isn’t the first time research has suggested drinking the brew could have health benefits, we still don’t have any clear evidence of a link with cancer deaths. And, as the Guardian rightly points out, studies like these can’t prove it was the coffee rather than another lifestyle factor that coffee drinkers have in common. You can read our blog post from last year that’s got more on coffee and cancer.