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News digest – prostate cancer MRI trial, drug delivery, cancer ‘cures’ on Facebook and weight loss

by PA Media Group | Analysis

21 December 2019

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Image of an MRI scanner and a radiographer

A prostate cancer MRI trial is in progress

BBC News reports on a new large-scale trial that will test if MRI scans could be used to screen men for prostate cancer. The trial will invite 300 randomly selected men aged 50 to 75 years old to have a 10-minute MRI scan and a PSA blood test. Scientists are hoping to find out if using MRI in this way could help to flag men who have signs of prostate cancer without the need for a biopsy. We’ve blogged before about how scientists are working to improve prostate cancer diagnosis.

Treatment that delivers drug straight to tumour given for the first time

A British woman is the first person in the world to receive a new treatment that aims to deliver high doses of chemotherapy directly to cancer cells. The treatment, which uses tiny clusters of bubbles and liquid droplets to enhance the delivery of chemotherapy, is part of a clinical trial being carried out in London that’s looking to reduce the number of doses of chemotherapy and its side effects for cancer patients. Read the full story in The Metro.

WHO approves cheap copy of common breast cancer drug

A cheaper version of the breast cancer drug Herceptin has been approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO). This decision will make it possible for women in low-income countries to benefit from treatment. This type of targeted therapy blocks off certain cancers’ fuel supply. More on this in The Guardian.

Facebook bans ads promoting fake cancer ‘cures’

Several Facebook groups promoting a dangerous skin cancer ‘treatment’ have been banned from the social media channel, following concerns about ‘sensational health claims’. Groups were promoting a black salve paste, which they claimed had the ability to cure skin cancer by ‘eating away’ at only cancerous cells. According to Buzzfeed News, the groups have been found to be in violation of Facebook rules that prohibit ‘violent and criminal behaviour’. Commenting on the story, experts strongly advised anyone considering taking an alternative or complimentary medicine to seek advice from a trained medical professional.

And finally

The Mail Online covers a study that says that post-menopausal women who are overweight could reduce their risk of breast cancer if they lose at least 20lbs. But the results present quite a complicated picture. Women who had sustained weight loss only had a reduced cancer risk if they weren’t taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT). And because hormone replacement therapy can increase the risk of breast cancer too, it’s hard to untangle which risk factor is having an effect. Unfortunately, there’s still not enough evidence to know what effect different patterns of weight loss can have on cancer risk.

Scarlett Sangster is a writer for PA Media Group