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News digest – cancer blood test, prostate cancer treatment, cancer risk and breast cancer radiotherapy

by PA Media Group | Analysis

2 May 2020

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Prostate cancer cell
Prostate cancer cell.

With news about the coronavirus pandemic developing daily, we want to make sure everyone affected by cancer gets the information they need during this time.

We’re pulling together the latest government and NHS health updates from across the UK in a separate blog post, which we’re updating regularly. 

Cancer blood test trialled in 10,000 women

A blood test that looks for tumour DNA shed by cancer cells has been trialled for the first time in a group of 10,000 women who had no known cancer history. If the test revealed a positive result, the women would then be given further tests, and this process picked up 26 previously undetected cancers. But 101 women who had a positive test turned out not to have cancer. And 24 women who had a negative test were diagnosed with cancer through other screening programmes, revealing a need to improve the reliability of the test. Read more at ScienceMag. We’ve blogged before about the scientists working to develop the elusive cancer blood test.

Breast cancer drug effective in treating prostate cancer

The targeted drug olaparib is a drug already used to treat some breast and ovarian cancers, but new studies show it could also be effective in treating some men with advanced prostate cancer. The targeted treatment takes advantage of a weakness in some prostate cancers’ ability to repair damaged DNA, blocking prostate cancer growth more effectively than the current standard of hormone treatment. Experts are hopeful that the treatment will be made available for NHS patients in the next couple of years. Our news report has the full story.

Scotland shows rise in cancer cases, but fall in cancer risk

More people are being diagnosed with cancer in Scotland, according to official figures picked up by BBC News. Public Health Scotland have linked the increase to Scotland’s growing and aging population. But while the number of cancers diagnosed in the last decade increased, stats suggest the risk of developing the disease has fallen thanks, in part, to changes in smoking rates.

And finally…

Women with breast cancer who would usually have 3 weeks of radiotherapy after surgery could benefit as much from a five day ‘fast-track’ treatment, according to new study results. Researchers from the Institute of Cancer Research say the treatment is as safe and effective as the current standard for women who have undergone surgery for early stage breast cancer. It’s hoped this shorter treatment period will also relieve pressure on the NHS during the coronavirus pandemic. More on this at The Metro.

Scarlett Sangster is a writer for PA Media Group