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News digest – lung cancer scanning, cervical screening test switch and fossilised tumour discovery

by Katie Roberts | Analysis

9 February 2019

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Scientists have discovered the oldest documented case of bone cancer in the prehistoric ancestor of the turtle.

NHS to roll out mobile lung cancer scanning across England

NHS England is setting up lung cancer scanning trucks in supermarket car parks across the country in a drive to detect the disease earlier. The £70 million programme will invite people aged 55-74 who are at increased risk of lung cancer, such as heavy smokers and ex-smokers, for a lung health check. The Guardian and our news report have the story. And our chief clinician, Professor Charles Swanton writes in the Guardian why the announcement is yet another reason to be optimistic about lung cancer.

Cervical screening test switch ‘effective’, says pilot study

A cervical screening pilot study in England has found that testing for human papillomavirus (HPV) infection first ‘works well in practice’ and could see the time between screenings extended to 5 years. Plans are already underway to switch the order in which cervical screening samples are tested in the UK, as testing for HPV first has been found to be more effective at preventing cervical cancer. Mail Online and our news report have the story.

Simpler bowel cancer test has increased screening participating in Scotland

Figures show that the introduction of a new test for bowel cancer has boosted the number of people taking up screening in Scotland. Mail Online covered the story, which found that 64 in 100 people have returned their test since launch of the faecal immunochemical test (FIT) in November last year, compared with 56 in 100 people the year before.

Mapping oesophageal cancer genes reveals new drug targets

Our scientists in Cambridge have used cancer DNA databases to uncover potential new drugs targets for oesophageal cancer. The team identified 3 or 4 DNA faults that are very important for individual tumours and found that more than half of tumours could be targeted by drugs in clinical trials for other cancer types. PharmaTimes and our press release have the story. We also blogged about the impact that large genetic databases can have on cancer research.

‘Trojan horse’ cancer treatment in trials

Headlines this week talked of a ‘Trojan horse’ cancer drug that can get inside cancer cells and kill them from within. The drug, tistumab vedotin, has been tested in early clinical trials in patients with 6 different cancer types. But while the drug looks promising, it’s too early to say if the benefit will be seen in studies that follow a larger group of patients for longer.

Major tobacco companies pay almost no UK corporation tax

The Independent covered new research suggesting big tobacco companies aren’t paying their fair share of UK corporation tax. According to the report, the 4 largest tobacco companies have changed their corporate structures to minimise UK tax bills.

You, Me and the Big C at the Francis Crick Institute

Deborah James and Lauren Mahon visited the Francis Crick Institute for a special World Cancer Day episode of You, Me and the big C. They were joined by our CEO, Michelle Mitchell, Dr Sam Godfrey and Professor Julian Downward to talk about hope, progress and research. Deborah also wrote an excellent piece for the Sun about what she learnt on the visit.

1 in 5 people say they drink more than the recommended limit  

NHS Digital data shows that 1 in 5 people in England aged 16 and over drink more than the government recommendation of no more than 14 units a week, which is down from the previous year. The Guardian covered the figures, which show that adults from higher income households were almost twice as likely to exceed the threshold than those from poorer homes. Drinking alcohol can increase the risk of developing 7 different types of cancer, as our blog post explains.  

‘We need a new strategy to tackle the disease in Northern Ireland’

Our public affairs manager in Northern Ireland explains why there’s an urgent need to go back to the drawing board in terms of a new strategy to tackle cancer.

And finally

Scientists have discovered the oldest documented case of bone cancer in the prehistoric ancestor of the turtle. The tumour was found in the fossilised leg of the creature, which lived around 240 million years ago. Experts argue that discoveries like this add to the evidence that many cancers that exist today – and the genes that are linked to cancer developing – are likely to have very ancient origins. National Geographic has the story.