Most recent data from UK points to substantial public health benefits of electronic cigarettes.



While most anti-smoking organizations continue to oppose electronic cigarettes (e-cigarretes), warning of the hypothetical risks of these products, new data from the UK suggest that in real life, e-cigarettes are producing substantial public health benefits.

Recent data (monthly tracking of key performance indicators; e-cigarettes in England – latest trends) from the Smoking Toolkit Study (Cancer Research UK, UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies) reveal the following critical points:

The use of e-cigarettes has increased dramatically, ever since the fourth quarter of 2011.
Precisely coincident with the rise in e-cigarette use in the UK has been a significant increase in quit smoking attempts.
E-cigarettes have surpassed nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) and other drugs as the most commonly used smoking cessation method.
Overall motivation to quit has increased since the dramatic rise in e-cigarette use.
The majority of dual users (e-cigarettes and cigarettes) are using e-cigarettes every day, and half are using at least two cartridges/disposables per day.
Very few non-smokers or long-term ex-smokers are using e-cigarettes.
Report STS140122 (Electronic cigarettes in England – latest trends) draws the following conclusions:

The increase in e-cigarette use prevalence may have stalled;
There is no evidence that e-cigarettes are undermining motivation to quit or reduction in smoking prevalence; and
Use of e-cigarettes by never smokers or long-term ex-smokers is extremely rare.
The rest of the story
Based on these most recent data from the UK, it appears that there just is not evidence to support the wild contentions that anti-smoking groups, advocates, and health agencies like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and WHO are disseminating to the public. Contrary to what Stan Glantz [Professor, Department of Medicine, and Director, Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, University of California San Francisco, US] is telling the press, there simply is no evidence that the use of e-cigarettes is undermining smoking cessation or impeding the decline in smoking prevalence. Nor is there evidence that e-cigarettes are causing non-smokers or ex-smokers to return to cigarette smoking. Moreover, there is no evidence that dual use is decreasing the motivation of smokers to quit or precluding these smokers from reaping any health benefits.

In contrast, however, to the lack of evidence that e-cigarettes are having any negative public health effects, there is strong evidence to suggest that these products are having a substantial positive public health impact. In particular, there is evidence that not only do these products help many smokers quit smoking, but more generally, they increase population interest in smoking cessation, enhance levels of motivation to quit smoking, and lead to increased quit attempts among current smokers.

The only bad news coming out of the actual data is that the efforts of anti-smoking groups and advocates appear to be working: they are being successful in discouraging smokers from trying to quit smoking using e-cigarettes. Ironically, the results of public health efforts have been to impede smoking cessation, lower the overall motivation of smokers to quit, and decreasing the number of quit attempts among current smokers.

In other words, the anti-smoking movement is violating the first principle of public health practice by doing public health harm.

While it is difficult for me to have to criticize anti-smoking groups because these are groups with which I have had a career-long collegial relationship, it appears that these groups are substantially harming the health of the public by impeding smoking cessation. Sadly, this means that their efforts are going to result in a significant amount of unnecessary disease and death.

This is not the way public health is supposed to be. But this is what happens when an abstinence-only mentality takes over in any area of public health, whether it be nicotine addiction or heroin addiction.

 

Soft drinks targeted by new government health campaign


Soft drinks

Families are being urged to ditch sugary drinks and cut down on saturated fat in the latest advertising blitz by England‘s public health watchdog.

Public Health England said a family of four could reduce their sugar intake by three-quarters of a 1kg bag of sugar in just one month by swapping fizzy drinks for healthier alternatives.

Changing whole milk for semi-skimmed milk could mean the average family cutting down their fat intake by a third of a pint over four weeks, the group said.

The advertising campaign, Smart Swaps, is seeking to capitalise on the millions of Britons who begin the new year with health-conscious resolutions after the festive period.

“Swapping like-for-like food in our diet could help cut out surprising levels of saturated fat, sugar and ultimately calories without having to give up the kinds of food we like,” said Professor Kevin Fenton, director of health and wellbeing at Public Health England.

He added: “We all eat too much saturated fat and sugar, which can increase our calorie intake. Together this increases our risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some cancers.”

Families will be offered vouchers to encourage them to avoid sugary cereals and swap butter and certain cheeses for reduced-fat alternatives.

However, the move brought a backlash from the soft drinks industry. The British Soft Drinks Association (BSDA) claimed its products were being shown in a misleading and “deliberately negative” way.

Gavin Partington, director general of the BSDA, said: “It is particularly frustrating for an industry which has been working with the Department of Health to promote healthier behaviours, reformulate products so they are lower in calories, make available smaller pack sizes and focus more of its marketing investment on low- and no-calorie options.”

He took issue with the depiction in the adverts of a two-litre bottle of pop, claimed to contain the equivalent of 52 sugar cubes.

“It is also disappointing to see our products depicted by the campaign in such a deliberately negative way,” he said. “That two-litre bottle shown in the ad is not intended to be consumed by an individual, certainly not by one child. Such an extreme depiction of the consumption of soft drinks undermines the key message of the campaign, namely that it’s very easy to make a smart swap to a no-calorie, diet soft drink.”

The Children’s Food Campaign welcomed the initiative but said it would be undermined unless supermarkets made healthier foods more affordable and easier to find in stores. The body also said that vouchers offered as part of the Public Health England scheme might not be cheaper than buying own-brand healthy foods.

In a separate study released on Thursday, Cancer Research UK said tripling the tax on cigarettes would cut smoking by a third and prevent 200m premature deaths by the end of this century.

The charity called on governments across the world to raise tax on tobacco, a move it said would encourage smokers to quit and help stop young people taking up the habit.

Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “Worldwide, around half a billion children and adults under the age of 35 are already – or soon will be – smokers, and many will be hooked on tobacco for life. So there’s an urgent need for governments to find ways to stop people starting and to help smokers give up.

“This immensely important study demonstrates that tobacco taxes are a hugely powerful lever, and potentially a triple win: reducing the numbers of people who smoke and who die from their addiction, reducing the healthcare burden and costs associated with smoking and yet, at the same time, increasing government income.”

Meanwhile the cost of joining a gym this year is continuing to rise, according to a Labour survey of 95 local authorities.

Nearly two-thirds of council-run fitness centres have increased the cost of annual membership in the last three years, some by up to £100, the survey found. A yearly gym pass now costs £368 on average, an increase of £15 since 2010, according to the research.

Luciana Berger MP, the shadow public health minister, said there was a desperate need to make leisure facilities affordable for all. “Millions of people across the country will want to kickstart 2014 by getting fitter and more active. There is a real risk however that many people will be put off from keeping to their new year’s resolutions by soaring gym charges and David Cameron’s failure to tackle the cost-of-living crisis.”

Australia bans sunbeds in every state in a bid to slash deaths from skin cancer.


Australia is to ban all commercial sunbeds in a bid to slash skin cancer rates.

Every state has now either banned or is planning to outlaw commercial sunbeds due to the country having some of the highest skin cancer rates in the world.

The condition is responsible for more than 2,000 deaths and 80 per cent of all new cancer diagnoses.

Every Australian state has now either banned or is planning to outlaw commercial sunbeds due to the country having some of the highest skin cancer rates in the worldEvery Australian state has now either banned or is planning to outlaw commercial sunbeds due to the country having some of the highest skin cancer rates in the world

On Sunday, the Queensland government announced a total ban on commercial sunbeds by December 31 next year.

The state’s 44 solarium operators will be paid $1,000 AUD (£600) in compensation for each tanning bed – a total cost of $160,000 (£9,540), Sky News reported.

The move came after other states – New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT all took steps to regulate or ban sunbed use.

Following the Queensland announcement, Dr Kim Hames, health minister of Western Australia – the only remaining state left to act – announced he was also preparing documents to ban sunbeds.

Cases of malignant melanoma - the deadliest skin cancer - have doubled in the last decadeCases of malignant melanoma – the deadliest skin cancer – have doubled in the last decade

He told Fairfax Radio: ‘There is no doubt about the increased risk of cancer – so I think the chances are (a ban in WA) won’t be far away.’

‘I have to take it to cabinet, but if it happens it will happen in the next three months,’ Dr Hames told Fairfax radio.

Research has shown that people who have ever used a sunbed are 20 per cent more likely to  develop melanoma later in life, compared to people who had never used one.

And those who started using sunbeds before the age of 35 were 87 per cent more likely to develop melanoma compared to people who have never used a sunbed.

Cases of malignant melanoma – the deadliest skin cancer – have doubled in the last decade, according to figures from Cancer Research UK.

Around 13,000 Britons are diagnosed with the illness each year and it causes 2,800 deaths.

The Australian crackdown comes after Brazil outlawed tanning beds, along with U.S. states such as Vermont and California. In the UK, people under 18 are banned from using sunbeds.

Tanning beds became increasingly popular among young Australians around 15-20 years ago. But numbers have fallen dramatically since a similar ban for under 18s was introduced.

Sara Osborne, Cancer Research UK’s head of policy, said: ‘It’s encouraging to see the Australian Government tackling this important issue and it will be interesting to see the response in other countries.

The Australian crackdown comes after Brazil outlawed tanning beds, along with U.S. states such as Vermont and California. In the UK, people under 18 are banned from using sunbedsThe Australian crackdown comes after Brazil outlawed tanning beds, along with U.S. states such as Vermont and California. In the UK, people under 18 are banned from using sunbeds

‘The evidence linking sun bed use and skin cancer is very clear. Overexposure to UV rays from the sun or sunbeds is the main cause of skin cancer, including malignant melanoma – the most serious form of the disease – which sadly kills around six people every day in the UK.

‘Cancer Research UK urges people not to use sunbeds for cosmetic reasons. The charity was involved in the successful campaign to introduce a ban on under-18s using them and is now asking the Government to give local authorities the power to license any businesses that provide sunbeds and to inform users of the health risks.

Blood pressure drug ‘fights cancer’


Losartan pill
Losartan has been prescribed as a blood pressure drug for decades

A commonly used blood pressure drug could help fight cancer by opening up blood vessels in solid tumours.

Used beside conventional cancer-fighting drugs, it could improve life expectancy, experts believe.

Following successful testing in mice, doctors plan to give losartan to patients with pancreatic cancer to see if it can tackle this hard-to-treat disease, Nature Communications reports.

Currently, only 5% of pancreatic cancer patients survive for at least 5 years.

This is partly because only one in 10 people with the disease has a tumour that is operable.

Future hope

Investigators at the Massachusetts General Hospital in the US are currently recruiting volunteer patients with inoperable pancreatic cancer to test out the new drug combination of chemotherapy plus losartan.

Although the treatment will not cure them, the researchers hope it will give the patients more months or years of life than they might otherwise get.

Losartan has been used for more than a decade as a safe blood pressure medication.

It works by making the blood vessels relax or dilate so that they can carry more blood, easing pressure.

The Massachusetts team found that the drug was beneficial in mice with breast and pancreatic cancer.

It improved blood flow in and around the tumours allowing more of the chemotherapy drugs to be delivered to their target.

Mice given this treatment, rather than standard chemotherapy alone, survived for longer.

Dr Emma Smith of Cancer Research UK said: “This interesting study in mice sheds light on why drugs for hypertension might improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy, but we don’t yet know if they work exactly the same way in people.

“The fact that these drugs are already widely used to treat high blood pressure will hopefully cut down the amount of time it will take to test their potential in treating cancer but they may not be safe for all patients or when combined with other cancer treatments, so we need to wait for the answers from clinical trials which are already under way.”

Drug licensed for advanced rare skin cancer.


Cancer experts have welcomed a move that makes a drug for patients with advanced skin cancer available in the UK.
Regulators have licensed Erivedge (vismodegib) for people with severe basal skin carcinoma.
Currently, treatment is limited to surgery or radiotherapy.
Cancer Research UK, whose scientists discovered the mechanisms the drug uses, said the decision was “great news for patients”.
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer in the UK and is often found on the head and neck.
Around 700 people a year in the UK are diagnosed with an advanced form of the cancer – a small number, but cancer experts say the lack of treatment options currently available is what makes this change significant.
Many will have already had surgery and radiotherapy, and it is often considered inappropriate for them to have further procedures
Continue reading the main story
“Start Quote
“This drug is a major advance for the treatment of this disease” ”
Dr Harpal KumarCancer Reseach UK
Erivedge, made by Roche, had to be licensed by the European Medicines Agency before it could be made available in the UK.
The drug, which patients take once a day, costs around £6,000 per month.
Clinicians who want to give it to their patients will have to apply to the Cancer Drugs Fund in England.
In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, doctors would have to ask their local health provider to fund the drug.
Hedgehog pathway
The drug works by blocking a process in the body that has gone awry.
The hedgehog pathway is a chemical process that is normally only active in the early stages of life and which becomes less so in adulthood.
The reactivation of this process is responsible for cell growth in more than 90% of basal cell carcinoma cases.
Dr Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: “We are proud to have played a key role in the early development of this drug and we’re delighted that it has passed this regulatory hurdle and is approved for use in the UK.
“This drug is a major advance for the treatment of this disease, providing advanced basal cell carcinoma patients with a new treatment option.
“This is great news for patients.”
Source: Cancer experts have welcomed a move that makes a drug for patients with advanced skin cancer available in the UK.
Regulators have licensed Erivedge (vismodegib) for people with severe basal skin carcinoma.
Currently, treatment is limited to surgery or radiotherapy.
Cancer Research UK, whose scientists discovered the mechanisms the drug uses, said the decision was “great news for patients”.
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer in the UK and is often found on the head and neck.
Around 700 people a year in the UK are diagnosed with an advanced form of the cancer – a small number, but cancer experts say the lack of treatment options currently available is what makes this change significant.
Many will have already had surgery and radiotherapy, and it is often considered inappropriate for them to have further procedures
Continue reading the main story
“Start Quote
“This drug is a major advance for the treatment of this disease” ”
Dr Harpal KumarCancer Reseach UK
Erivedge, made by Roche, had to be licensed by the European Medicines Agency before it could be made available in the UK.
The drug, which patients take once a day, costs around £6,000 per month.
Clinicians who want to give it to their patients will have to apply to the Cancer Drugs Fund in England.
In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, doctors would have to ask their local health provider to fund the drug.
Hedgehog pathway
The drug works by blocking a process in the body that has gone awry.
The hedgehog pathway is a chemical process that is normally only active in the early stages of life and which becomes less so in adulthood.
The reactivation of this process is responsible for cell growth in more than 90% of basal cell carcinoma cases.
Dr Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: “We are proud to have played a key role in the early development of this drug and we’re delighted that it has passed this regulatory hurdle and is approved for use in the UK.
“This drug is a major advance for the treatment of this disease, providing advanced basal cell carcinoma patients with a new treatment option.
“This is great news for patients.”
Source: BBC

 

Mouth bacteria may trigger bowel cancer.


Researchers say they have uncovered how bacteria may set off a chain reaction leading to bowel cancer.

Fusobacteria, commonly found in the mouth, cause overactive immune responses and turn on cancer growth genes, two US studies reveal.

The microbes had been linked with colorectal cancer before but it was not known whether they were directly involved in tumour growth.

The early findings are published in the journal Cell Host & Microbe.

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In addition to potential new treatments, the discovery could lead to better early diagnosis and prevention, experts hope.

The first study, carried out by Harvard Medical School researchers, showed that fusobacteria were present in high numbers in adenomas – a benign bowel growth that can become cancerous over time.

The same researchers also did tests in mice showing that the bacteria speeded up the formation of colorectal tumours by attracting special immune cells that invade and set off an inflammatory response which can lead to cancer.

The second study, carried out by researchers at Case Western Reserve University, showed that fusobacteria had a molecule on their surface which enabled them to attach to and invade human colorectal cancer cells.

The molecule – FadA – then switches on cancer growth genes and stimulates inflammatory responses to promote tumour formation.

Higher levels

A synthetic compound which blocked FadA was found to completely halt the process, raising the possibility it could one day be used as a preventive treatment.

The Case Western team also confirmed that FadA levels were much higher in tissues from patients with adenomas and colorectal cancer compared with healthy individuals.

Dr Wendy Garrett, lead author of Harvard study, said: “Fusobacteria may provide not only a new way to group or describe colon cancers but also, more importantly, a new perspective on how to target pathways to halt tumour growth and spread.”

She added that in the future the presence of the bacteria in a tumour may be used to guide treatment decisions.

Prof Yiping Han who carried out the second study added: “We have proven there is an infectious component to colorectal cancer.

“We have shown that FadA is a marker that can be used for the early diagnosis of colorectal cancer and identified potential therapeutic targets to treat or prevent this common and debilitating disease.”

Oliver Childs of Cancer Research UK said: “Our bodies contain many hundreds of microbes, many of which are beneficial and protect us against disease. But some can cause harm and this latest research gives compelling evidence that fusobacteria contribute to the development of certain bowel cancers by helping the cancer cells to grow.

“If larger studies confirm this work, a potential next step will be to develop tests to spot people at higher risk of bowel cancer or drugs that eradicate the effects of the bacteria.”

Source: BBC

 

Breast cancer rules rewritten in ‘landmark’ study.


What we currently call breast cancer should be thought of as 10 completely separate diseases, according to an international study which has been described as a “landmark”.

The categories could improve treatment by tailoring drugs for a patient’s exact type of breast cancer and help predict survival more accurately.

_59720340_c0027305-mammography_examin

The study in Nature analysed breast cancers from 2,000 women.

It will take at least three years for the findings to be used in hospitals.

Cancer cartography

Researchers compared breast cancer to a map of the world. They said tests currently used in hospitals were quite broad, splitting breast cancer up into the equivalent of continents.

The latest findings give the breast cancer map far more detail, allowing you to find individual “countries”.

“Breast cancer is not one disease, but 10 different diseases,” said lead researcher Prof Carlos Caldas.

 

Analysis: What does this mean for patients?

The potential here is huge and it could have a transformative role in breast cancer care. However, we are a long way from using the new definitions in hospitals and the immediate impact on patients will be limited.

There are clear survival differences among the 10 categories. Clusters two and five seem to have a 15-year survival of around 40%. Clusters three and four have around 75% survival over the same period. This could help better inform patients.

In terms of treatments, there is bad news. There is a targeted therapy for just one of the 10 breast cancers groups. That is Herceptin, which is already used in a targeted group of patients. Other groups will still have “standard” therapies such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

The hope is that by identifying the 10 breast cancers it will be possible for researchers to design drugs for each one, but that is still a work in progress.

He added: “Our results will pave the way for doctors in the future to diagnose the type of breast cancer a woman has, the types of drugs that will work and those that won’t, in a much more precise way than is currently possible.”

At the moment, breast cancers are classified by what they look like under the microscope and tests for “markers” on the tumours.

Those with “oestrogen receptors” should respond to hormone therapies such as tamoxifen; those with a “Her2 receptor” can be treated with Herceptin.

The vast majority of breast cancers, more than 70%, should respond to hormone therapies. However, their reaction to treatment varies wildly. Prof Caldas said: “Some do well, some do horribly. Clearly we need better classification.”

Unprecedented scale

His team looked at frozen breast cancer samples from 2,000 women at hospitals in the UK and Canada.

They looked in huge detail at the genetics of the tumour cells – which genes had been mutated, which genes were working in overdrive, which were being shut down.

The study, by researchers in the UK and Canada, showed that all the different ways the cells changed when they became cancerous could be grouped into 10 different categories – named IntClust one to 10.

Prof Caldas said this was a “completely new way of looking at breast cancer”.

The study was funded by Cancer Research UK. Its chief executive, Dr Harpal Kumar, said: “This is the largest ever study looking in detail at the genetics of breast tumours.

A new beginning

This is one of the prime examples of what could be a revolution in healthcare – “personalised medicine”.

Cancers tend to be named after the place you find them; breast, colon, prostate, lung – the list goes on. It has long been known that this is not good enough, that some breast cancers can have more in common with an ovarian cancer than another breast tumour.

This study shows we should be thinking of breast cancer as 10 different diseases. Genes are going haywire in broadly 10 different ways and each category of mistake would require a different treatment.

This is the essence of personalised medicine – tailoring treatments to the genetics of a disease.

Similar studies could break other cancers down into several separate diseases, but the effects of personalised medicine could be much wider.

There are investigations into using genetic tests to predict which patients will respond well, or very badly, to blood thinners, bipolar medication and anti-HIV drugs.

The Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, has already described the promise of the field as “immense”.

There is a long way to go, as only one of the 10 breast cancer categories has a personalised treatment at the moment. But as is so often the case, breast cancer research is leading the way.

“This will change the way we look at breast cancer, it will have an enormous impact in the years to come in diagnosing and treating breast cancer.

“We think this is a landmark study.”

He said the charity would begin using the new criteria in clinical trials it funded.

Outside of trials for new cancer drugs, the new breast cancer rulebook could take some time to directly benefit patients.

The researchers need to prove that the 10 classifications actually provide any benefit to people with breast cancer, before they can be used by doctors.

That process is expected to take three to five years.

Cancer revolution

The chief executive of the Breast Cancer Campaign, Baroness Delyth Morgan, said the study could “revolutionise the way breast cancer is diagnosed and treated”.

“Being able to tailor treatments to the needs of individual patients is considered the Holy Grail for clinicians and this extensive study brings us another step further to that goal.”

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “We are always looking at new ways to improve outcomes for cancer patients and that is why we are investing more than £750m to make sure people are diagnosed with cancer earlier and have better access to the latest treatments.

“We look forward to seeing the future results of this ongoing work and will continue to work with Cancer Research UK to find the best possible way to improve outcomes for people with breast cancer.”

Source: BBC

New research to revolutionise understanding of lung cancer.


IN A WORLD first, a new Cancer Research UK study will unlock lung cancer’s secrets, tracking in real time how lung tumours develop and evolve as patients receive treatment.

In one of the largest ever studies of lung cancer patients globally, this pioneering project will examine exactly how lung cancers mutate, adapt and become resistant to treatments.

calung

The nine year, £14 million, UK wide study – called TRACERx (Tracking Cancer Evolution through Therapy) and launched today by Cancer Research UK – will receive one of the single biggest funding commitments to lung cancer. Researchers will recruit 850 lung cancer patients* from across the UK and take samples of their tumour before and following surgery and subsequently if the disease recurs.

Biopsies will be taken from different parts of each patient’s tumour and analysed with the latest technology to give a more comprehensive genetic profile. Different parts of a tumour can evolve independently, so a sample from one region alone might contain different genetic changes to another sample, elsewhere in the tumour.

Lung cancer has been difficult to study as it can be hard to access and take samples of tumours. An earlier Cancer Research UK innovation means that patients will also have blood tests to examine DNA from the cancer that might be circulating in the bloodstream.

Researchers will then be able to compare genetic changes within and between patients, record how the treatment changes the genetic profile of their disease, and how this ultimately affects the patients’ chances of survival.

The combination of these techniques will give an unprecedented insight into lung cancer and allow researchers to identify and understand the precise genetic makeup of lung cancers. The results will also lay the foundations for being able to offer patients treatment that is tailored to the specific genetic makeup of their cancer.

This landmark study will bring together more than 65 lung cancer researchers in the UK, including oncologists, pathologists, laboratory researchers and technicians based in hospitals, universities and research institutes.

The research centres taking part in the study are: University College LondonVelindre Cancer Centre CardiffBirmingham University HospitalLeicester HospitalCancer Research UK’s Paterson Institute for Cancer Research at The University of ManchesterThe Christie Hospital in Manchester andUniversity Hospital South Manchester and the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.
University College London Hospital will be leading the thoracic surgery for the research.

The study marks the start of a new Cancer Research UK initiative to beat lung cancer sooner which will also see the funding of a new centre of excellence in lung cancer research.

Scientific advances have helped more people survive cancer than ever before. But progress has not been consistent across all cancer types, and some have lagged behind.

One of these is lung cancer – which is the most common cause of cancer death in the UK, and only nine per cent of patients survive their disease beyond five years.

Cancer Research UK plans to change this by investing heavily in lung cancer in the coming years. The new initiative will help focus attention on lung cancer and galvanise the research community, drawing in existing lung cancer experts and opening doors for new talent.

Professor Charlie Swanton, lead researcher based at Cancer Research UK’s London Research Institute and University College London, said: “Success in treating lung cancer has been difficult to achieve but we’re hoping to change that. The first step to improving cancer diagnosis and treatment is to understand more about the disease and how it changes over time. Research has led us to this point when, after decades of earlier work, we can look to the future with real optimism. We plan to harness new sequencing technologies to trace the genetic evolution of cancer over the course of the disease. Our research will help explain why lung cancer is difficult to treat, and steer a path towards saving more lives.”

Dr Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “Lung cancer kills more people than any other type of cancer. We want to change this. For too long, success against the disease has been slow. We’re determined to unlock the secrets of the disease, to understand its biology, to develop more accurate tests to diagnose it and discover better treatments for people.

Around 42,000 people are diagnosed with lung cancer in the UK every year, with around 35,000 deaths from the disease. TRACERx will help to improve the understanding of the disease and ultimately the outlook for patients and their families.

Robert Peston, BBC’s business editor, has a personal connection to lung cancer and said: “Lung cancer is the biggest cancer killer, and can afflict any of us, old or young, smokers or non-smokers. I know this only too well because my non-smoking wife, Sian Busby, died last year at the age of 51. Unfortunately, as Sian and I learned, medical science’s understanding of this terrible disease lags behind knowledge of other cancers. That is why the planned genetic analysis of many hundreds of lung cancer tumours, of the TRACERx programme being announced today, feels like an important and positive development.”

Lawrence Dallaglio OBE, retired English rugby union player and former captain of the English national team, said: “Lung cancer is a devastating disease for patients and their families. Far too many people still go through what my family had to face after my mother was diagnosed with the illness. Cancer Research UK’s commitment to beating lung cancer will help improve the outcome for patients in the future. This is a big project with a powerful goal – to understand this complicated, dreadful disease. More needs to be done to help more people beat lung cancer.”

Dr Kumar added: “TRACERx is key to achieving a better outcome for lung cancer patients. Our researchers will revolutionise what we know of the disease, how we think about it and ultimately will help us to save lives. Our commitment to beating lung cancer is only possible with the generous support of people from across the UK. ”

Source: http://www.cancerresearchuk.org

Lung cancer ‘secrets’ to be probed.


Scientists across Britain are to map the genes of the tumours of 850 lung cancer patients in a bid to understand more about the deadly disease.

The £14m research at six centres aims to find out how lung cancers become resistant to treatment; they are the most common cause of UK cancer death.

 

The study will trace how lung tumours develop and evolve over nine years.

Some 42,000 people are diagnosed with lung cancer in the UK every year, with about 35,000 deaths from the disease.

Scientific progress has lagged behind that made for other cancers – only 9% of patients survive beyond five years.

Researchers in London, Leicester, Cardiff, Birmingham, Manchester and Aberdeen, will create a genetic profile of each patient’s tumour to study how the cancer changes and evades treatment.

Patients with non-small-cell lung cancer patients, which make up about 78% of lung cancers diagnosed in England and Wales, will be recruited.

‘Better understanding’

Lead researcher Prof Charlie Swanton, of Cancer Research UK’s London Research Institute and University College London, said success in treating lung cancer had been difficult to achieve, but his team hoped to change that.

He told BBC News: “The main hope will be a much better understanding of how non-small-cell lung cancer changes and adapts over time.

“And by understanding how it changes and adapts over time, I hope we’ll get a better insight into developing better therapeutics to stop those changes and adaptations from happening.”

In one of the largest studies of its kind, scientists will analyse genetic changes inside lung cancers of hundreds of patients from diagnosis and throughout treatment.

Case study

Joe Suckling was diagnosed with lung cancer at the age of 50.

Following radiotherapy, he has now been clear of cancer for five years.

He said:”I was lucky but it shouldn’t be about luck.

“That’s why this research is so important.

“It’s very vital that we get on top of this so there can be more people like myself.”

This will involve sequencing billions of letters of DNA – the equivalent of more than 65,000 human genomes.

Scientists hope they will be able to identify common genetic mutations that can be targeted by drugs at different stages of the disease.

Dr Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said research into lung cancer had been underfunded compared with other cancers, which was why the charity was now making it a research priority.

“Typically we’re diagnosing lung cancer patients very, very late,” he said.

“By which time their cancers are already very advanced, they’ve often already spread around the body and often that means that those patients are too ill to go onto a clinical study or for us to get access to a sample of their tumour on which we can then do research.

‘Smoking myth’

“Getting access to that sample is critical for us to be able to understand the disease.”

Dr Kumar said it was a myth that lung cancer was just a smoker’s disease as two Out of 10 lung cancers were unrelated to smoking.

“We mustn’t take our eyes off smoking,” he told BBC News. “We know that smoking causes a quarter of all cancer deaths not just lung cancer – of all cancer deaths.

“So it is a problem that still needs to be tackled. But it is wrong to think that all lung cancer is caused by smoking.”

Some 42,000 people are diagnosed with lung cancer in the UK every year, with about 35,000 deaths from the disease.

Source: BBC

HPV virus ‘linked to third of throat cancer cases’.


One third of people diagnosed with throat cancer are infected with a form of the HPV virus, a study suggests.

HPV (human papillomavirus) is the major cause of cervical cancer, and the virus is known to spread through genital or oral contact.

Actor Michael Douglas is reported to have spoken about the link after his own diagnosis with throat cancer.

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Experts said this study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, which quantifies the link, showed “striking” results.

There are more than 100 types of HPV. Most people will be infected with HPV at some point, but in most the immune system will offer protection.

There are two HPV strains which are most likely to cause cancer – HPV-16 and HPV-18.

HPV-16 is thought to be responsible for around 60% of cervical cancers, 80% of cancers in the anus and 60% of oral cancers.

Around 1,500 people are diagnosed with throat cancers each year in the UK, with around 470 people dying from the disease.

Survival benefit

This study looked at HPV’s link with cancer of the back of the throat – oropharyngeal cancer.

It looked at blood test results collected from people who took part in a huge prospective study into lifestyle and cancer, who were all healthy at the start.

Everyone gives a blood sample when they join the study, and in this case the researchers were able to check for the presence of antibodies to one of HPV’s key proteins – E6.

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Condoms won’t stop infections completely.””

E6 knocks out part of cells’ protection system, which should prevent cancer developing.

Having the antibodies means HPV has already overcome that defence and caused cancerous changes in cells.

The researchers compared blood test results – some more than 10 years old – for 135 people who went on to develop throat cancer and for 1,599 cancer-free people.

The University of Oxford team found 35% of those with throat cancer had the antibodies, compared with fewer than 1% of those who were cancer-free.

However, these patients were more likely to survive throat cancer than people whose disease had other causes, such as alcohol or tobacco use.

The study found 84% of people with the antibodies were still alive five years after diagnosis, compared with 58% of those without.

Broader effect?

Dr Ruth Travis, a Cancer Research UK scientist at Oxford who worked on the study, said: “These striking results provide some evidence that HPV-16 infection may be a significant cause of oropharyngeal cancer.”

Sara Hiom, Cancer Research UK’s director of health information, said: “HPV is an extremely common virus.

“Practising safer sex may reduce the risk of getting or passing on HPV, but condoms won’t stop infections completely.”

She added: “If the HPV vaccine can also protect against oral HPV infections and cancers, then it could have a broader potential protective effect, but we don’t have enough research yet to tell us. ”

Source: BBC