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News digest – cancer survival comparisons, NHS nurse shortages, antibiotics and chicken?

by Ethan Meyers | Analysis

14 September 2019

1 comment 1 comment

Doctor and nurse discussing results in a hospital.

UK cancer survival improving, but still lagging behind other countries

An international study published this week revealed the number of people surviving cancer in the UK has increased since 1995. But it also revealed how much progress still needs to be made, as the UK has some of the lowest survival figures of the 7 high-income countries studied. Experts say the necessary improvements won’t be seen until NHS staff shortages are addressed, as our blog post explains. The story was widely covered by news outlets including BBC News, The Guardian and Mail Online.

NHS staff shortages leaving cancer nurses stretched

Almost half of specialist nurses working in the NHS said their workload made it difficult to properly care for their patients, according to survey results from Macmillan Cancer Support. And around 4 in 10 called they workload ‘unmanageable’, as the Telegraph reports. And it’s not just nurses that are feeling the strain of an underfunded NHS. In our blog post we spoke to Dawn Chaplin, a consultant radiographer who has been working full-time on the NHS for 10 years.

In another story about the NHS workloads this week, Siobgan McArdle, who’s been the chief executive of South Tees Hospitals Foundation Trust for 4 years, has decided to resign at the end of the month. In her resignation letter, she cited the latest round of financial forecasting and an increasingly tight strain of the NHS as key reasons for her departure, as The Guardian explains.

Researchers fear for work that spans EU borders

UK researchers have voiced their concerns about being able to work with EU member states on international clinical trials in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The Guardian highlighted the ongoing Phitt clinical trial , which is testing new ways to treat children with rare liver cancers and is part of a European research network that received €7.9 million from the EU. Scientists worry these types of collaborative projects may be under threat in the future if the UK was to leave the EU without a deal.

Our blog post gives you all you need to know about what a no-deal Brexit could mean for cancer treatment and research in the UK.

Research on new lung cancer blood test hits the headlines

A new blood test that could one day help catch lung cancer at an earlier stage made headlines this week. BBC News and Sky News covered the research, presented at a lung cancer conference, which found that people with a high risk of lung cancer who had the blood test were diagnosed earlier than those who didn’t. However, the study only compared people who had both the test and follow up scans to people who’d had neither, making it difficult to unpick the benefits of the blood test alone. More research would be needed to understand the blood test’s potential value. CT scans are already being used in some parts of England to diagnose lung cancer earlier in people with a high risk of developing the disease.

Bowel cancer becoming more common in young adults

New figures covered by Reuters showed that, in certain countries, bowel cancer is becoming more common in adults under the age of 50. Canada, Germany, New Zealand and the UK were among the countries that saw an increase in early-onset bowel cancer. It’s not the first study to find that bowel cancer rates are rising in young adults and, as our blog post explains, it’s not entirely clear what’s causing the increase.

Finding the right cancer drug targets

This week, The New York Times asked a simple question: why aren’t cancer drugs better? A fascinating read, the article explores new work that suggests the targets for some cancer drugs may not be what we think they are.

Scientists discover potential new way to protect against hair loss during cancer treatment

Progress is being made towards preventing hair loss during cancer treatment, according to the Huffington Post. Scientists discovered how some chemotherapy drugs used to treat breast and lung cancer damage hair follicles, which brings them one step closer to finding a way to treat it. They found that treating hair follicles with a targeted cancer treatment in the lab made them less susceptible to the damaging effects of chemotherapy. The team hope to use this knowledge to develop new medicines to help prevent hair loss during treatment.

Exploring the link between antibiotics, cancer treatment and survival

A small study in two NHS hospitals found that taking antibiotics in the month before starting immunotherapy could affect the treatment’s success. Scientists who ran the study suggest that by killing helpful bacteria in the gut, antibiotics could affect how well immunotherapy works. But while the study asks some interesting questions about antibiotic use, it’s still early days. The next step is to see if the same pattern is seen in larger groups of patients, as The Guardian explains.

The bugs that live our gut, and the role they play in health, is a fascinating area of scientific discovery at the moment. Our researchers are investigating how the gut microbiome links to cancer, which you read can about in our blog post.

Lung cancer drug delivers promising results

More news from the lung cancer conference in Barcelona this week, as the immunotherapy drug nivolumab was found to improve the 5-year survival of patients with advanced lung cancer compared to standard chemotherapy. Nivolumab is already available in England for these patients through the Cancer Drugs Fund, while long-term data is collected on the drugs benefits. The Telegraph has this one.

Vaping linked to 6 deaths in the US, but true cause unknown

There have been several cases in the US of a serious lung disease that have been reportedly linked to vaping, as The Sun reports.

Health investigators in the US are trying to establish the reasons behind these deaths, as BBC News explains. This includes looking for contaminated substances added to the vape fluid. Health experts aren’t aware of similar incidents occurring in the UK and say that stricter controls are in place here and in Europe.

And finally

The Sun and The Times (£) covered new results from a study looking at the diets of over 450,000 people in the UK, over an 8 year period. The findings, presented at a conference, suggested a link between eating chicken and developing prostate cancer, melanoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. But as the researchers acknowledged, the majority of previous research, hasn’t found a link between chicken and cancer. Our blog post gives you the facts about meat eating and cancer risk.



  • Dona
    28 September 2019

    Tell me about it more… I just got diagnosed with throat cancer. I found in an oveview by Beri Khatri – Do I Have Cancer, that beside HPV, diet is a great factor. I don’t have hpv, and I always tried to eat good things… life….


  • Dona
    28 September 2019

    Tell me about it more… I just got diagnosed with throat cancer. I found in an oveview by Beri Khatri – Do I Have Cancer, that beside HPV, diet is a great factor. I don’t have hpv, and I always tried to eat good things… life….