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News digest – obesity plan, more doctors needed, cancer waiting times, and HPV vaccine

by Michael Walsh | Analysis

30 June 2018

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Childhood obesity plan updated

Plans to stop shops from offering certain deals on unhealthy foods as well as restrictions on television advertising have been proposed by the Government. The Guardian reports on the plans that update the childhood obesity plan, which was widely criticised for not being strong enough when it was introduced in 2016. We think the new measures need implementing urgently.

Calls to double the number of medical students

The NHS needs to double the number of medical students in training to avoid collapse, reports The Telegraph. The Royal College of Physicians said rising obesity levels, new genetic technologies and other factors mean the number of new students entering medical school each year should rise to 15,000. We recently welcomed new NHS funding but said it needs to be spent wisely, most urgently on a boost in staff numbers.

NHS ‘below-average’ for treating common deadly illnesses

The NHS is lagging many other countries when it comes to treating some common, life-threatening illnesses, reports BBC News. The BBC commissioned a study that found the UK is ‘below average’ on preventing deaths from many diseases, including cancer.

HPV vaccine should be offered to boys, say doctors

A group of doctors has called for boys to be given the human papillomavirus (HPV) jab while at primary school, reports The Telegraph. The vaccine protects against a virus that causes virtually all cases of cervical cancer, as well as increasing the risk of cancers of other genital areas, the mouth and throat. Only girls are offered the vaccination from the age of 12, but doctors at the British Medical Association’s annual conference called for the jabs to be given to children as young as 10.

Hospitals should do more to help smokers quit

All smokers should be given help to quit when they’re treated in hospital, according to a report by the Royal College of Physicians. The Times (£) reports on their calls for stop-smoking services to be an automatic part of all hospital care, that could double the rate of quitting.

Latest cancer treatment waiting times are ‘worst ever’

Scotland’s cancer treatment waiting times are at their worst level in six years, reports BBC News. The latest figures show that the target of 95% of patients being treated within 62 days of a cancer diagnosis is being missed by more than two thirds of the country’s 14 health. In the first three months of 2018 only 85% of patients began treatment within target time, a fall from 2017. There’s a similar picture in Northern Ireland where all health trusts missed the 95% target according to the Belfast Telegraph. 

Non-smokers and lung cancer

Lung cancer is the most common cancer globally, and it’s often associated with smokers. But the BBC looks at why rates of the disease are rising among non-smokers, as well as women.

Technology driving personalised treatment

Our scientists in Cambridge are sequencing the tumour DNA of breast cancer patients to help choose the right treatment and predict whether they’ll experience side effects, reports BBC News. They’ve done this for 275 patients so far and they aim to enrol 2,000 patients over the next four years.

And finally

In a 6-part series we’re exploring the major challenges that are holding back progress in the field of brain tumour research. Part one focuses on how brain tumours develop, and what makes them different to other cancer types.