Skip to main content

Together we are beating cancer

Donate now
  • Science & Technology
  • Health & Medicine

News digest – smoking ban, HPV and prostate cancer, genetic testing and plain packaging

by PA Media Group | Analysis

18 July 2020

0 comments 0 comments

Cigarette in ashtray

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. 

Smoking ban outside pubs and restaurants  

Wales’ health minister announced potential plans to ban smoking outside pubs, cafés and restaurants in Wales, reports BBC News. Peers have urged ministers to consider similar measures in England.

Our director of prevention, Alison Cox, said that being stuck in a queue or outside a café, escaping second hand smoke isn’t an easy option anymore. “Tobacco remains the leading cause of cancer in the UK, and if the government wants to achieve its goal of 5% smoking prevalence by 2020, we need to support people to quit. Better regulation of smokefree environments wherever people gather merits further consideration.”

Precision medicine develops targeted lung cancer treatment 

Results from a Cancer Research UK-funded precision medicine trial has revealed more about how different non small cell lung cancers respond to targeted treatments, as our blog post explains. 

Targeted treatment for leukaemia approved for NHS  

A new targeted treatment for acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) is now an option for some adults on NHS England, after new data analysis confirmed the gilteritinib could be considered a life-extending therapy. Get the full story in our news report.  

BRCA gene testing could help prevent cancer deaths  

The Times (£) and iNews report on research estimating the cost-effectiveness of testing all women for faulty versions of the BRCA genes, which are known to increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancers. Results suggest that UK-wide BRCA testing could help to prevent tens of thousands of cancer deaths by identifying those at greater risk of developing the disease.

Experts have praised the findings as an important step forward but said that further research is needed to assess the impact, in particular the potential for over diagnosis and treatment, as well as steps to manage the anxiety the programme might cause for people who test positive.

Scientists claim link between HPV and prostate cancer 

A new review from Australian researchers claims that the human papillomavirus (HPV) – known to cause most cervical cancers and some other cancers, including penile and anal cancer – may also cause prostate cancer. 

But despite the headlines, the review didn’t add anything new to suggest that HPV infection causes prostate cancer or that HPV vaccinations should be encouraged for other cancer types. Commenting on the research, our health information manager, Karis Betts, added that no actual mechanism by which the virus causes prostate cancer was proposed, and they drew their conclusions from just 26 papers.  

“A review of this type is only as useful as the papers included in it, which unfortunately only looked at whether people with prostate cancer had HPV, not whether people with HPV went on to develop prostate cancer more often than those without it.” 

UK tobacco sales fell in response to plain packaging 

New reports show cigarettes sales fell by about 20 million in the month after plain packaging rules and increased taxes were introduced. Research funded by us and the British Heart Foundation also revealed that overall revenue for the tobacco industry dropped by 13% in the same month. Medical experts are urging governments around the world to consider plain packaging as an effective way of de-incentivising smoking. More on this at The Guardian.  

And finally…. 

Our chief executive officer, Michelle Mitchell, has revealed our new 3-year plan to help us rebuild and adapt to our drop income through the COVID-19 pandemic. Find out more about our post-COVID strategy in our blog post.  

Scarlett Sangster is a writer for PA Media Group