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News digest – breast cancer trials, height and cancer risk, bowel cancer in young people and immunotherapy

by Lily Almeida | Analysis

27 October 2018

1 comment 1 comment

Radiotherapy could extend the lives of some prostate cancer patients

Our researchers at University College London tested the effects of combining standard treatment with radiotherapy aimed at the prostate in men whose prostate cancer has already spread. Not everyone benefited from the treatment, but it did boost survival in some men whose cancer had spread just outside the prostate, reports The Guardian. The findings were presented at the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) congress this week. Read our press release and blog post for the details.

New drug combo for anal cancer

Taking two chemotherapy drugs at the same time could be safer and more effective for anal cancer patients than current treatment, according to more trial results presented at ESMO. On average people taking the combo lived seven months longer than those on standard treatment, reports the Metro. 

Immunotherapy may extend the lives of some women with aggressive breast cancer

More from ESMO: The Telegraph reports that an immunotherapy drug combined with conventional chemotherapy extended the lives of some women with triple negative breast cancer by 10 months. But the benefits were most clearly seen in women whose tumour samples contained a high level of a specific molecule targeted by the immunotherapy. Our news report has more, and this Forbes article takes a more critical view of the news coverage around the findings.

Targeted drug could extend the lives of women with advanced breast cancer

Combining a targeted drug and hormone therapy could boost survival for some women with advanced breast cancer, according to the BBC. Taking the targeted drug, called palbociclib (Ibrance), with hormone therapy extended the lives of some women by 7 months on average. But statistical tests suggest the results should be treated with caution, as we explained in our news report.

Marlboro maker Philip Morris accused of hypocrisy over anti-smoking advert

Tobacco manufacturer Philip Morris introduced a new ad campaign, encouraging smokers to quit. We called out the campaign’s “staggering hypocrisy”. Even though tobacco advertising is banned in the UK, the company still promotes smoking in other parts of the world. BBC News has the full story or read our blog post.

Increase in bowel cancer cases among young Europeans

Findings presented at ESMO suggest the number of colon cancer cases in European young adults are increasing, reports the Express. Over the last two decades, the number of people between 25 and 49 who are diagnosed with bowel cancer has increased in the UK, but bowel cancer is still rare in younger people.

Targeted drug could slow the progression of ovarian cancer

A new study found that a targeted drug could slow the progression of some advanced ovarian cancers that carry a faulty BRCA gene, the Telegraph reports. Taking the drug after chemotherapy reduced the risk of the cancer getting worse or the patient dying by 70% compared to taking a placebo. Our news report has more on this one.

Some types of blood pressure medication could increase lung cancer risk

The Sun reported on an study that suggested certain blood pressure medications could be linked to a small increased risk of lung cancer. The researchers also said that the length of time spent on the medication could play a role in  the likelihood of developing the disease. But this study does not show clear cause and effect, so more research is needed to confirm these findings.

Immunotherapy could be used instead of chemo for advanced head and neck cancer

People with advanced head and neck cancer could be offered an immunotherapy drug as an alternative to chemotherapy, says iNews. A study showed that immunotherapy boosted survival in some patients and they had fewer side effects than those on conventional treatment. Even though only a fifth of patients responded to the immune-boosting drug, the researchers say the study is a major step towards using this type of treatment as a first option instead of a last resort.

And finally

The Mail Online and BBC report that taller people are more likely to develop cancer. The researchers suggest this is because taller people are made of more cells so there is more potential for one of them to go wrong. The US research adds to previous studies suggesting a link between height and cancer risk, but overall the increased risk is small. There are lots of changes that everyone can make to help reduce their cancer risk such as stopping smoking and keeping a healthy weight.



  • Jane
    9 November 2018

    So much of interest in these regular blogs and great to know about all the wonderful research taking place. I am pleased to be helping in my own small way.


  • Jane
    9 November 2018

    So much of interest in these regular blogs and great to know about all the wonderful research taking place. I am pleased to be helping in my own small way.