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News digest – unhealthy food tax, NICE decisions, fertility and an experimental cervical cancer test

by Nick Peel | Analysis

22 December 2018

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White blood cell
White blood cell

Relapse tests for breast cancer reviewed

According to the Mirror, experts have said that some women are receiving chemotherapy unnecessarily for breast cancer. The report linked this to women not being offered a test that predicts the risk of their cancer coming back after treatment. A few days later, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) published updated recommendations saying these women, along with others who have early stage breast cancer, should be offered three different relapse tests on the NHS. Our news report has the details.

Link between false positive breast screening results and future cancer risk

Women who got a false positive result at breast screening weremore likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer in the future, according to a large European study. The Mail Online and Telegraph covered the study, it’s not clear what might be behind the findings. Most women who experience a false positive result won’t go on to develop breast cancer.

England’s top doctor calls for tax on unhealthy foods

England’s chief medical officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, has spoken out against the food industry and is calling for a tax on unhealthy food high in sugar and salt. The call comes from Davies’ annual report, which details measures she thinks should be taken to help people live healthier lives. BBC News and The Guardian are among those that covered the report.

Immune cells cast DNA ‘webs’ that may help ovarian cancer spread

Scientists have discovered that immune cells play a role in helping ovarian cancer cells spread in mice. Researchers from the University of Texas found that ovarian cancer cells spread to new tissue in mice after being caught in DNA webs released by specialised immune cells, called neutrophils. Read more about this one in our news report.

NICE rejects targeted drug for rare lymphoma

People with a certain type of lymphoma will not be able to receive a targeted cancer drug on the NHS in England. NICE issued draft guidance saying that giving brentuximab vedotin (Adcetris) to people with a type of lymphoma after they’ve had another treatment is not cost effective. Our news report has more.

Cancer and fertility

The Guardian takes an in-depth look at how researchers are tackling fertility problems caused by cancer treatment in childhood.

Plain packaging behind rising cost of cigarettes, says study

Our researchers at Stirling University found that the introduction of plain, standardised packaging for cigarettes is behind rising prices of major brands of tobacco. This is the opposite of what tobacco companies had said would happen when the measure came in in May 2017, reports The Guardian.

Some ovarian cancer patients too ill for treatment

An ovarian cancer charity has released new data showing that 1 in 5 women may be too ill to start treatment once they’re diagnosed with the disease. Sky News has more on this one.

Breast implant no longer available in Europe due to cancer link

A type of breast implant that has been linked to a rare blood cancer will no longer be available in Europe, reports The Guardian and Mail Online.

And finally

A potential new cervical cancer test hit headlines after a study showed the DNA test can pick up cell changes in tissue samples that could become cancer. But the media reports were a bit quick in saying the test could “revolutionise screening”, as we explain in this blog post.

The news digest will be taking a festive break after today. We’ll return with a bumper edition on 4thJanuary. All the best for the New Year.