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The Cancer Drugs Fund: was it worth it?

The Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) was launched in England in 2010 to provide patients with access to anti-cancer drugs not available through the NHS because the drugs had not been appraised, were in the process of being appraised, or had been appraised but not recommended by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE). read more

Childhood cancer incidence around Dounreay and Sellafield

Childhood leukaemia is rare, affecting approximately 500 children every year in the UK. There have been numerous studies and reports on the possible risks of childhood leukaemia in the vicinity of nuclear installations and there are acknowledged historical clusters of childhood leukaemia around both Sellafield and Dounreay nuclear sites. Recent reports of raised thyroid cancer incidence following reactor accidents in other countries have led to increased interest in the possible consequences of the 1957 Windscale fire. The Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment (COMARE) is publishing its 17th report, ‘Further consideration of the incidence of cancers around the nuclear installations at Sellafield and Dounreay’ – a comprehensive review of the incidence of leukaemia, non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) and other cancers among young people around the Sellafield and Dounreay nuclear installations, updating its previous work. COMARE is a Department of Health Expert Committee providing independent advice to all government departments and agencies. read more

expert reaction to two studies reporting results on monitoring prostate cancer versus surgery or radiotherapy, and survival and cancer progression

Two studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine reported that in men with localised prostate cancer (that hadn’t spread) active monitoring was not significantly more dangerous than surgery or radiotherapy in terms of survival, and that surgery and radiotherapy reduce the risk of cancer progression compared with active monitoring but can also cause more unpleasant side-effects including sexual or bowel impairment. read more

liquid biopsies for cancer

To give cancer patients the best treatment, doctors need important information about the genetic and molecular make-up of their cancer. Tissue biopsies are often used but they do not always give a comprehensive view of the cancer, they can be invasive, and it may not be possible to repeat them very often. With major changes in the ease and cost of DNA sequencing, scientists are now working on the possibility of ‘fishing’ out genetic material from tumours via the blood in order to get information about the make-up of the patient’s cancer. The aim is for these ‘liquid biopsies’ to give a comprehensive view of the way a cancer progresses, which can help identify which treatments to give, and may spot when the cancer is becoming resistant to its current treatment. The tests can also give valuable information to cancer researchers that could develop treatments in the future. Already some UK patients on clinical trials are being given these liquid biopsies as part of their treatment. read more

the future of cancer research – how can we outsmart cancer?

Cancer is the UK’s biggest killer, claiming around 160,000 lives every year. Survival rates have improved enormously in some types of cancer, but patients with other tumour types continue to do very poorly, and once the disease has spread round the body it is still often incurable. Researchers from The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and The Royal Marsden have been working over the last year to identify the biggest challenges we face in treating cancer, and come up with an action plan to overcome them. The ICR will be launching their action plan. read more

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