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News digest – artificial ovaries, cereals high in sugar, breast screening and happy 70th birthday to the NHS

by Gabriella Beer | Analysis

7 July 2018

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NHS plan to test cancer patients’ DNA

From October the NHS will be offering cancer patients in England a chance to have their tumour DNA tested, reports the Guardian. This would make the NHS the first health care service in the world to provide genomic medicine. Experts say the move is a big step towards personalising treatment, as results from these tests may help doctors choose the best treatment for patients based on the genetic makeup of their disease.

Artificial ovary could help cancer patients with fertility

Danish scientists have taken the first steps in developing an artificial ovary that might help cancer patients preserve their fertility after chemotherapy. Ovarian tissue samples were taken from women before they started treatment. According to the BBC, samples were then treated in the lab before being grown in mice where the tissue continued to develop. Finding out how to repeat this process in people is the next step.

Breakfast cereals should be next to reduce sugar

In addition to the measures laid out in the Government’s updated childhood obesity plan last month, the head of NHS England says breakfast cereal companies need to update recipes to help tackle obesity. In the Guardian, Simons Stevens expressed concern at the high sugar content found in many cereals that children eat.

Scottish government plans to ban junk food ads

The Scottish government announced plans to crack down on obesity by targeting junk food. Ministers say they’ll ask experts on the best ways to restrict bargain buy deals on unhealthy foods and marketing on foods high in salt, sugar and fat. The BBC has the details.

More evidence to back switching order of cervical screening tests

New research added further support to testing for human papillomavirus (HPV) infection first as part of cervical screening. The Mail Online explains that the current screening programme first looks for abnormal cells in a sample, before then testing for HPV. But the viral infection causes virtually all cases of cervical cancer, so flipping the order of the tests will make cervical screening more effective. The NHS in England, Scotland and Wales will be making this change over the next two years.

Moisturisers with SPF don’t fully protect skin

Wearing a moisturiser with SPF isn’t protecting your skin as much as you think, says the Independent. Research suggests when applying moisturiser or make up with SPF people tend to cover less of their faces and apply a thinner layer compared to how they apply sun screen. They also don’t reapply.

Computer programme uses risk to predict breast screening benefits

Researchers in London say that changing the way women are selected for breast screening, by using their overall risk and not just age, would reduce the number of women put through unnecessary tests and treatment for breast cancer and save the NHS money. STAT News and the Evening Standard covered the story and we blogged about the findings.

Innovations that could soon reach NHS

iNews lists the top 10 health innovations that the NHS could use in the future. This includes using virtual reality to build a 3D map of tumours to understand them better and inform how diseases are treated and diagnosed.

UK smoking rates still decreasing

The number of people who smoke in the UK is still going down, says the Guardian. New stats suggest that a considerable number of people have kicked the habit in the last year. Experts say this is partly down to the uptake of e-cigarettes.

And finally

It was the NHS’ 70th birthday this week! This short video from the Independent briefly covers the history of the service and how the challenges it faces have changed over the years, while the BBC reminds us who founded the health service back in 1948.