Bowel Cancer Awareness Month

Bowel Cancer UK  |  Bowel Cancer Awareness Month 2018

April 2018 is bowel cancer  awareness month and Bowel Cancer UK has produced a range of resources to raise awareness. Their mission is to ensure that by 2050, no-one will die of bowel cancer.

Bowel cancer is the UK’s second biggest cancer killer however it shouldn’t be because it is treatable and curable especially if diagnosed early. Nearly everyone diagnosed at the earliest stage will survive bowel cancer but this drops significantly as the disease develops. (Bowel Cancer UK)

Bowel Cancer
Image source: bowelcanceruk.org.uk

The resources including more information about the symptoms of bowel cancer are available at Bowel Cancer UK

 

The poster can be downloaded from Bowel Cancer UK here

 

Related:

NIHR | Three-month course of chemotherapy as effective as six months following surgery for bowel cancer

 

In the media:

BBC News  | Ex-health secretary being treated for bowel cancer

 

Three-month course of chemotherapy as effective as six months following surgery for bowel cancer

NIHR   | March 2018  |Three-month course of chemotherapy as effective as six months following surgery for bowel cancer

NIHR and MRC in partnership  have funded international clinical trial, which has evaluated the effectiveness of a three-month course of adjuvant oxaliplatin/fluoropyrimidine combination chemotherapy for colorectal cancer versus the standard six-month treatment regimen. The trial’s findings indicate that the shorter duration treatment leads to similar survival outcomes with better quality of life for patients and therefore might represent a new standard of care.

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The research team led by the Cancer Research UK Clinical Trials Unit in Glasgow, recruited more than  6,000 patients with high-risk stage II or stage III colorectal cancer from 244 centres across Europe, Australia and New Zealand. The participants in the trial  received either a three or six month course of chemotherapy and were followed up for a minimum of three years.

Three years later, 76.7% of patients who received treatment over three months were disease free compared to 77.1% of patients treated over six months. Patients treated over three months had fewer side effects and reported a better quality of life as well as reduced peripheral neuropathy.

Chief Investigator Dr Tim Iveson, Consultant Medical Oncologist at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust and Honorary Associate Professor at the University of Southampton, said: “Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK with 41,000 new cases each year. Bowel cancer can be cured by surgery and chemotherapy. Approximately 2,500 patients per year currently receive up to six months of post-operative chemotherapy. Reducing chemotherapy duration to three months will save the NHS £5000 per patient – a total saving to the NHS of £12.5 million pounds per year.

Dr Iveson added: “The impact on patients is important, as by having a shorter course of chemotherapy patients have fewer side effects.  Based on these results, three months of post-operative chemotherapy should be considered as the new standard care for many patients with bowel cancer.”

The full unedited news item is available from NIHR  here

Summary

Background

6 months of oxaliplatin-containing chemotherapy is usually given as adjuvant treatment for stage 3 colorectal cancer. We investigated whether 3 months of oxaliplatin-containing chemotherapy would be non-inferior to the usual 6 months of treatment.

Methods

The SCOT study was an international, randomised, phase 3, non-inferiority trial done at 244 centres. Patients aged 18 years or older with high-risk stage II and stage III colorectal cancer underwent central randomisation with minimisation for centre, choice of regimen, sex, disease site, N stage, T stage, and the starting dose of capecitabine. Patients were assigned (1:1) to receive 3 months or 6 months of adjuvant oxaliplatin-containing chemotherapy. The chemotherapy regimens could consist of CAPOX (capecitabine and oxaliplatin) or FOLFOX (bolus and infused fluorouracil with oxaliplatin). The regimen was selected before randomisation in accordance with choices of the patient and treating physician. The primary study endpoint was disease-free survival and the non-inferiority margin was a hazard ratio of 1·13. The primary analysis was done in the intention-to-treat population and safety was assessed in patients who started study treatment. This trial is registered with ISRCTN, number ISRCTN59757862, and follow-up is continuing.

Findings

6088 patients underwent randomisation between March 27, 2008, and Nov 29, 2013. The intended treatment was FOLFOX in 1981 patients and CAPOX in 4107 patients. 3044 patients were assigned to 3 month group and 3044 were assigned to 6 month group. Nine patients in the 3 month group and 14 patients in the 6 month group did not consent for their data to be used, leaving 3035 patients in the 3 month group and 3030 patients in the 6 month group for the intention-to-treat analyses. At the cutoff date for analysis, there had been 1482 disease-free survival events, with 740 in the 3 month group and 742 in the 6 month group. 3 year disease-free survival was 76·7% (95% CI 75·1–78·2) for the 3 month group and 77·1% (75·6–78·6) for the 6 month group, giving a hazard ratio of 1·006 (0·909–1·114, test for non-inferiority p equal to 0·012), significantly below the non-inferiority margin. Peripheral neuropathy of grade 2 or worse was more common in the 6 month group (237 [58%] of 409 patients for the subset with safety data) than in the 3 month group (103 [25%] of 420) and was long-lasting and associated with worse quality of life. 1098 serious adverse events were reported (492 reports in the 3 month group and 606 reports in the 6 month group) and 32 treatment-related deaths occurred (16 in each group).

Interpretation

In the whole study population, 3 months of oxaliplatin-containing adjuvant chemotherapy was non-inferior to 6 months of the same therapy for patients with high-risk stage II and stage III colorectal cancer and was associated with reduced toxicity and improved quality of life. Despite the fact the study was underpowered, these data suggest that a shorter duration leads to similar survival outcomes with better quality of life and thus might represent a new standard of care.

Funding

Medical Research Council, Swedish Cancer Society, NETSCC, and Cancer Research UK.

 

Full reference:
Iveson, T. J., et al  |    2018  | 3 versus 6 months of adjuvant oxaliplatin-fluoropyrimidine combination therapy for colorectal cancer (SCOT): an international, randomised, phase 3, non-inferiority trial The Lancet Oncology  |  Vol. 19  | 4 | P.562–78

The full article can be read in The Lancet here

NHS England: ‘One stop shop’ marks a ‘step change’ in the identification, diagnosis and treatment of cancer

NHS England  | New ‘one stop shops’ for cancer to speed up diagnosis and save lives  |

Rapid diagnostic and assessment centres are being piloted in ten areas as part of NHS England’s drive to catch cancer early and speed up diagnosis for people with cancer.  These pilots form the Accelerate, Co-ordinate and Evaluate (ACE 2) Early Diagnosis Programme, a joint initiative by NHS England, Cancer Research UK and Macmillan.   These new centres are part of NHS’s plan to meet the new faster diagnosis standard, where patients with suspected cancer should receive a diagnosis or the all clear within 28-days.   Those diagnosed, with cancer can be referred on to specialists,  those with benign conditions will be directed to appropriate treatment and receive tailored advice about prevention. It is anticipated that if the pilot is successful the programme will be rolled out across England.

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While these pilots  are the first multidisciplinary diagnostic centres in England, the concept comes from Denmark, where it was developed in response to patients presenting with vague symptoms being referred for multiple tests, when they required an urgent diagnosis.
All of the centres have the same purpose – to diagnose cancers early in people who do not have ‘alarm symptoms’ for a specific type of cancer, but each of will operate in a different way to address the needs of their local communities. The ten centres are located at:

  • North Middlesex University Hospital,
  • University College London Hospital,
  • Southend University Hospital,
  • Queens Hospital
  • Royal Free Hospital
  • St James University Hospital
  • Airedale General Hospital
  • University Hospital South Manchester
  • Royal Oldham Hospital
  • Churchill Hospital

The full post and further details of the programme can be found at NHS England 

In the media: BBC News  ‘One-stop shops’ set to speed up cancer diagnosis

Avoidable Lifestyle factors implicated in 2,500 cancer cases a week that could be prevented

More than 2,500 cancer cases a week could be avoided | Cancer Research UK  |  March 2018 

Cancer Research UK has published findings which demonstrate that almost 4 in 10 ( 37.7 per cent) of cancers could have been prevented. The landmark study highlights that many lifestyle factors could contribute to an individual’s risk of developing cancer.  The study identifies 135, 500 cases of cancer a year in the UK that could be prevented through lifestyle changes. The research findings have been published this month in the British Journal of Cancer  (the full abstract at the end of the post).

cancer research
Image source: cancerresearchuk.org

While smoking was to blame for the largest percentage of preventable cancer cases, using data from 2015 the researchers observed,  tobacco smoke caused around 32,200 cases of cancer in men (17.7% of all male cancer cases) and around 22,000 (12.4%) in women.

Obesity is the second highest contributory risk to developing cancer: around 22,800 (6.3%) cases of cancer a year are down to being overweight or obese. This is equivalent to around 13,200 (7.5%) cases of cancer in women and around 9,600 (5.2%) in men. The results imply that 5% (1 in 20) cancer cases might possibly be prevented by maintaining a health weight. Obesity has been linked to 13 different types of cancer, such as cancers of the bowel, breast and kidney.

The third greatest factor in preventable cancers was overexposure to UV radiation from the sun and sunbeds, associated with around 13,600 cases of melanoma skin cancer a year, 3.8% of all cancer cases.

Other preventable lifestyle risks outlined in the study were eating too little fibre causing around 11,900 cases equivalent to 3.3% each, drinking too much alcohol (attributed to causing 11,700 cases or 3.3% each.

In repsonse to the findings of the research, Sir Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “Leading a healthy life doesn’t guarantee that a person won’t get cancer, but it can stack the odds in your favour. These figures show that we each can take positive steps to help reduce our individual risk of the disease.” (Cancer Research UK)

Full press release from Cancer Research UK here 

Full reference: Brown, K. F., et al   | 2018 |  The fraction of cancer attributable to modifiable risk factors in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the United Kingdom in 2015  |British Journal of Cancer | doi:10.1038/s41416-018-0029-6

Abstract

Background

Changing population-level exposure to modifiable risk factors is a key driver of changing cancer incidence. Understanding these changes is therefore vital when prioritising risk-reduction policies, in order to have the biggest impact on reducing cancer incidence. UK figures on the number of risk factor-attributable cancers are updated here to reflect changing behaviour as assessed in representative national surveys, and new epidemiological evidence. Figures are also presented by UK constituent country because prevalence of risk factor exposure varies between them.

Methods

Population attributable fractions (PAFs) were calculated for combinations of risk factor and cancer type with sufficient/convincing evidence of a causal association. Relative risks (RRs) were drawn from meta-analyses of cohort studies where possible. Prevalence of exposure to risk factors was obtained from nationally representative population surveys. Cancer incidence data for 2015 were sourced from national data releases and, where needed, personal communications. PAF calculations were stratified by age, sex and risk factor exposure level and then combined to create summary PAFs by cancer type, sex and country.

Results

Nearly four in ten (37.7%) cancer cases in 2015 in the UK were attributable to known risk factors. The proportion was around two percentage points higher in UK males (38.6%) than in UK females (36.8%). Comparing UK countries, the attributable proportion was highest in Scotland (41.5% for persons) and lowest in England (37.3% for persons). Tobacco smoking contributed by far the largest proportion of attributable cancer cases, followed by overweight/obesity, accounting for 15.1% and 6.3%, respectively, of all cases in the UK in 2015. For 10 cancer types, including two of the five most common cancer types in the UK (lung cancer and melanoma skin cancer), more than 70% of UK cancer cases were attributable to known risk factors.

Conclusion

Tobacco and overweight/obesity remain the top contributors of attributable cancer cases. Tobacco smoking has the highest PAF because it greatly increases cancer risk and has a large number of cancer types associated with it. Overweight/obesity has the second-highest PAF because it affects a high proportion of the UK population and is also linked with many cancer types. Public health policy may seek to mitigate the level of harm associated with exposure or reduce exposure levels—both approaches may effectively impact cancer incidence. Differences in PAFs between countries and sexes are primarily due to varying prevalence of exposure to risk factors and varying proportions of specific cancer types. This variation in turn is affected by socio-demographic differences which drive differences in exposure to theoretically avoidable ‘lifestyle’ factors. PAFs at UK country level have not been available previously and they should be used by policymakers in devolved nations. PAFs are estimates based on the best available data, limitations in those data would generally bias toward underestimation of PAFs. Regular collection of risk factor exposure prevalence data which corresponds with epidemiological evidence is vital for analyses like this and should remain a priority for the UK Government and devolved Administrations.

 

Cancer survival trends

Little evidence for any direct impact of national cancer policies on short-term survival in England and no evidence for a reduction in socioeconomic inequalities in cancer survival. Findings emphasise that socioeconomic inequalities in survival remain a major public health problem. |  London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine | British Medical Journal

New research from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found that despite overall improvements in cancer survival, the gap in survival between the most affluent and most deprived groups of patients remains unchanged for most cancers.

Survival trends were examined for 21 cancers in men and 20 cancers in women.

For each cancer, the chances of survival at one year after diagnosis were estimated separately for men and women in five levels of socio-economic deprivation, from the most affluent to the most deprived, and in each of the three calendar periods.

Researchers focused on one-year survival because most of the inequalities in cancer survival in England arise shortly after diagnosis. The survival estimates were corrected for the risk of dying from other causes of death. Estimates were also adjusted for differences in the age profile of cancer patients between men and women, and over time.

The “deprivation gap” in survival between the most affluent and most deprived groups of patients remained unchanged for most cancers. There was a clear and persistent pattern of lower survival among more deprived patients. It narrowed slightly for some cancers, where one-year survival was already more than 65% in 1996, such as cervical cancer and skin melanoma in men. By contrast, the deprivation gap in survival widened between the late 1990s and 2013 for brain tumours in men and lung cancer in women.

Full story at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Link to the research: Aimilia Exarchakou et al.  (2018). Impact of national cancer policies on cancer survival trends and socioeconomic inequalities in England, 1996-2013: population based study. BMJ.

Patient data saves lives: Cancer

Better use of data is essential to speed up diagnosis, research new treatments, plan better NHS services and monitor the safety of drugs. However, most patients feel they don’t know how their data are used in the NHS.

Understanding Patient Data have developed a series of animations to address this gap in knowledge.

Watch the video, Patient data saves lives: Cancer below:

Other titles in this series include:

  • Patient data saves lives: The bigger picture (watch)
  • Patient data saves lives: Dementia (watch)
  • Patient data saves lives: Asthma (watch)
  • Patient data saves lives: Heart attack (watch)
  • Patient data saves lives: Diabetes (watch)

For further information about how and why patient data is used, visit the UPD website: www.patientdata.org.uk

PSA Screening for Prostate Cancer

This article by Scott Gavura discusses the findings of a recent study which concluded that PSA screening for prostate cancer offers no survival benefits | via Science based Medicine

In this article, the author discusses the controversy surrounding PSA testing, and the findings of a new study, “Effect of a Low-Intensity PSA-Based Screening Intervention on Prostate Cancer Mortality”

The study included over 400,000 British men aged 50-69. Men were randomized into an RN appointment, where they were offered information on a PSA test, and if they chose, the test. The other group didn’t invite men for testing. After a 10 year period, the study found that there were more prostate cancers detected from this one-time testing. However, this group was no less likely to die from prostate cancer.

Given there was no difference in mortality between the two groups Gavura asks the question as to whether to PSA screen or not?

PSA
Image source: Cancer Research UK

Full article: Gavura, S | PSA Screening for Prostate Cancer | Science based Medicine

Link to the research: Martin, R. et al .| Effect of a Low-Intensity PSA-Based Screening Intervention on Prostate Cancer MortalityThe CAP Randomized Clinical Trial  | JAMA | 2018 Vol 319(9) p883–895

 

Related: Why a one-off PSA test for prostate cancer is doing men more harm than good | Cancer Research UK