An image of a scientist working in the lab, with her back turned to the camera.

Innovative cancer drug rejected for NHS in England

A new ‘tissue agnostic’ drug has been given an initial ‘no’ for NHS use in England. Larotrectinib (Viktrakvi) is one of a new breed of cancer drugs that can treat a variety of cancers based on specific DNA changes within tumours, regardless of where the cancer is located. The National Institute of Health Care Excellence (NICE) said the drug could not be made available due to uncertainties in the clinical trial results and long-term benefits, which meant the treatment would not be cost-effective on the NHS. Our news report and the Mail Online have more.

Economic impact of cancer totals £7.6bn

The economic and social impact of cancer in the UK is estimated to be £7.6 billion, according to a cross-party think tank. The research, prepared on behalf of pharma company Pfizer, found that 55% of women and 40% of men change their working patterns after being diagnosed with cancer, while 76% of all patients reported that cancer negatively impacted their family life. You can read the full story in Health Europa.

Cancer ‘one-stop shop’ cuts waiting time by 92%

A rapid diagnosis clinic set up in Wales has cut cancer waiting times by 92% in its first year, reports BBC News. People visiting their GPs with non-specific but potentially cancer-related symptoms were sent to the centre at Neath Port Talbot Hospital, where they were either diagnosed, referred for further tests or discharged if nothing serious could be found.

Missed GP appointments cost the NHS millions

7.8 million patients failed to attend their GPs appointment in England between June and November last year, according to new analysis of NHS data. And with the average appointment costing £30, that adds up to £200 million a year on missed GP appointments. The story was widely reported.

Prostate cancer deaths on the rise

The number of people dying from prostate cancer is on the rise in the UK, exceeding 12,000 deaths a year in 2017. The rise has been put down largely to an ageing population, meaning more people are being diagnosed with prostate cancer. But despite the figures, improvements in prostate cancer treatment mean that death rates have been falling since 1995. The Guardian has this one.

One in 5 cancer patient diagnosed through emergency route in Northern Ireland

BBC News covered new figures revealing that of the 45,000 people in Northern Ireland diagnosed with cancer between 2012 and 2016, 1 in 5 came in via A&E or an emergency referral. The study found that emergency diagnoses were greater among older patients and in deprived areas.

And finally

Scientists are unravelling a complex and close relationship between the immune system and cancer. Last year a team of our researchers revealed how the immune system preys on growing lung cancers, forcing them to evolve to survive. And our scientists have now uncovered a similar relationship in highly mutated cancers, such as oesophageal and stomach cancers. These cancers can rapidly evolve and hide from the body’s immune system. Understanding tumour evolution is vital to help scientists develop new treatments. Read the full story at Science Focus.