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News digest – cancer survival, breast cancer drug, cancer jab trials, and… vaping

by Michael Walsh | Analysis

3 February 2018

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  • Cancer survival is increasing across the globe, according to a new study that we reported on. But there are wide variations between countries, and the UK is lagging behind comparable nations for many common cancers. The Mirror focused on funding cuts and the Daily Mail blamed slow diagnosis and poor treatment.  
  • A drug for certain types of breast cancer has been approved for the NHS in England, reports the Guardian. Pertuzumab (Perjeta) can increase survival for women who have incurable advanced breast cancer by 16 months, and was approved on the NHS in England after a price cut was negotiated with the manufacturer. Check out our news report for more.
  • The proportion of women taking up NHS breast screening is at the lowest level in a decade, according to the Independent. Women aged 50-70 are invited for a mammogram every three years, and only 71% attended appointments in 2016-17.
  • The number of men dying from prostate cancer has overtaken female breast cancer deaths for the first time in the UK, reports BBC News. An ageing population means more men are developing and dying from the disease, while advances in breast cancer diagnosis and treatment are paying off. The Guardian also had the story.
  • A cancer jab that aims to eliminate tumours even when they have spread is about to start human trials. US scientists found that injecting two drugs directly into tumours in mice kills the cancer cells, along with those that have spread, by boosting the immune system. The Telegraph and The Sun had this story.
  • The UK has been accused of hypocrisy on overseas tobacco control, according to The Guardian. It reports that the government has been lobbying on behalf of UK-based tobacco giants operating overseas, despite spending millions of pounds trying to curb smoking rates abroad. We’ve talked before about how tobacco remains a global threat and through our international tobacco control programme we’re keeping the pressure on to reduce smoking rates worldwide.
  • A revolution in health care is coming, says The Economist. The report focuses on how the data generated by new technology, health and exercise apps could help shape diagnosis and treatment of conditions, including cancer.

And finally

  • Vaping ‘may raise the risk of cancer’, according to a number of news outlets. But as we and others pointed out the study that prompted the reports was done in cells in a lab and mice, not people. And the researchers didn’t compare e-cig vapour with tobacco smoke. It’s an interesting study, but the findings don’t match what featured in the headlines. The evidence so far shows that e-cigarettes are far less harmful than smoking.