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News digest – how kidney cancer evolves, the harms of booze, a cancer vaccine trial and… Tasmanian devils?

by Justine Alford | Analysis

14 April 2018

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Tasmanian devil
Tasmanian devil
  • Our scientists made headlines this week after discovering that kidney cancer evolves in 3 main ways. In the future this knowledge could help doctors better predict how a person’s disease will progress, and highlights new treatment opportunities. Our blog post has more on the findings.
  • We published a new report suggesting that NHS funds set aside to help diagnose cancer earlier might have been allocated elsewhere in the healthcare system. Our news report details why more resources in this area are key to improving cancer survival.
  • Prostate cancer research is set to receive a funding boost from the Government, reports the Guardian, Independent and others. The Prime Minister highlighted a £75 million investment into studies about the disease, in the hope of improving diagnosis and treatment.
  • Further evidence of the benefits of cutting down on booze was published this week, after a new study of almost 600,000 people found that even drinking 12.5 units a week – less than the government guidelines recommend – can shorten life expectancy. As the researchers told the media, this helps us move away from the long-held belief that drinking a small amount of alcohol can be beneficial for health.
  • A new review from the University of Oxford has confirmed that unexplained weight loss in the over 60s could be a red flag for many cancers. The report calls for GPs to refer people with unexplained weight loss for further tests. But as we told The Telegraph and Daily Mail, to achieve this GPs will first need better access to ways of helping diagnose the disease.
  • We want the Government to ban junk food TV ads before the 9pm watershed in a bid to tackle childhood obesity. But new plans being drawn up could go one step further, suggests The Times, by prohibiting these adverts on social media platforms too. The Drum also has the story.
  • Last year a devastating fire halted research at our Manchester Institute. Now plans for a multi-million-pound replacement building have been announced. The Manchester Evening News has details on the proposals.
  • New Scientist covered a small clinical trial showing early promise for an ovarian cancer treatment vaccine, which works by gearing up the immune system to attack the disease. The vaccine was found to be safe and, in combination with chemotherapy, showed an improvement in survival compared with chemo alone.
  • A private centre in Wales has become the first to treat a patient with proton beam therapy in the UK, South Wales Argus and FT report. Later this year, the NHS will also begin treating patients with this type of radiotherapy in a new facility in Manchester. Read our blog post for more on the types of cancer it can be used to treat.
  • In a first of its kind case a woman has had her jaw re-grown after losing part of her mouth and chin because of cancer. The BBC and The Times detail the woman’s remarkable journey through treatment.

And finally

  • The Tasmanian devil population has been suffering at the hands of a deadly cancer that’s spread when the animals bite one another. But the sad situation has been given a new glimmer of hope, after UK scientists found that the disease could be halted by drugs already used to treat human cancers. It’s early stage work that’s only been carried out in the lab, but the researchers tell the BBC they’re optimistic that the findings could one day help conserve the dwindling species.