Skin cancer rates in England far higher than previously thought

Data from a newly established UK skin cancer database, the largest database of its kind in the world, has revealed that there are over 45,000 cutaneous squamous cell carcinomas (cSCC) every year in England, 350 per cent more than previous estimates suggested | JAMA Dermatology | via ScienceDaily


Developed by experts at Queen Mary University of London and Public Health England (PHE), and funded by the British Association of Dermatologists, the database fills in gaps in the recording of skin cancer, ensuring that accurate numbers for the three most common types of skin cancer: melanoma, basal cell carcinoma (BCC), and cSCC, are available for the whole of the UK.

These data are important as they enable researchers and policy makers to evaluate the effectiveness of prevention initiatives, screening, staging (the process of grading a cancer in terms of size, depth and whether it has spread to other parts of the body), and treatments for what is a very common cancer. The study has been published in JAMA Dermatology.

Full story at ScienceDaily

Journal reference: Venables, Z. et al. |  Nationwide Incidence of Metastatic Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma in England |  JAMA Dermatology | 2018

First children with cancer to begin treatment with revolutionary CAR-T therapy

The first children to receive a game-changing personalised therapy for cancer will start treatment at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London this week | via NHS England

CAR-T is a highly complex new type of immunotherapy which involves collecting and using the patients’ own immune cells to target their cancer in a process which is completed over a number of weeks.

The start of this treatment marks the beginning of a new era of personalised medicine, and forms part of the upgrade in cancer services which will be set out shortly NHS’s long term plan.

In September, NHS England struck the first full access deal in Europe on tisagenlecleucel, which can potentially cure some children with B cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) where other treatments have failed, enabling NICE to recommend the treatment for entry into the reformed NHS Cancer Drugs Fund last week.

The landmark deal with Novartis came less than 10 days after the treatment was granted its European marketing licence and represents one of the fastest funding approvals in the 70 year history of the NHS.

Full story at NHS England

Unfinished Business: An assessment of the national approach to improving cancer services in England 1995–2015

The Health Foundation | November 2018 | Unfinished Business: An assessment of the national approach to improving cancer services in England 1995–2015

A major report of the progress in cancer care during the last two decades has been released by The Health Foundation. It reports that progress has been made on reducing mortality, and improving the chances of survival and the experience of care, for people in England diagnosed with cancer. 

Unfinished business
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Unfinished Business sets out recommendations to help close the gap in survival between England and other comparable countries.

These include: radical improvements in early diagnosis and detection of cancer, such as increasing investment in diagnostic equipment, building public understanding of cancer symptoms, improving resourcing of primary care, greater support for GPs to refer more patients and supporting collaboration across primary and secondary care (Source: The Health Foundation).

Read the report in full from The Health Foundation 

Read The Health Foundation’s press release 

Hope for non-toxic treatment for child cancer

OnMedica | November 2018 | Hope for non-toxic treatment for child cancer

One of the most common childhood cancers- neuroblastoma –  has been found by researchers investigating treatments for the condition in animals. Neuroblastoma is the leading single cause of cancer in under 5s. Currently, despite using intensive treatment regimens, children with the most aggressive forms of neuroblastoma have a less than 50% survival rate.  Although researchers in Australia have studied the effects of using this treatment on mice, a combination of two drugs was found to be more effective than other treatments (via OnMedica).


The research team have recently presented their findings at the 30th EORTC-NI-AACR Symposium, an event that unites academics, scientists and pharmaceutical industry representatives from across the world to discuss the latest advances and the impact of new discoveries in molecular biology. (Full story from OnMedica)

OnMedica Hope for non-toxic treatment for child cancer

Pancreatic cancer across Europe

Pancreatic Cancer Europe & United European Gastroenterology | November 2018 | Pancreatic cancer across Europe

Today (15 November) is World Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Day, Pancreatic Cancer Europe & United European Gastroenterology have released  Pancreatic cancer across Europe: Taking a united stand. Pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival rate in Europe. Patient outcomes have been largely static for the last forty years, in contrast to the improved outcomes in the treatment of other cancers. 

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The number of  deaths from pancreatic cancer has almost doubled in the
past thirty years, over 90,000 EU citizens die from pancreatic cancer every year. Forecasts predict that this dreadful disease shows no sign of relenting either, with the number of cases and deaths both estimated to increase by 40% by 2035 (Source: Pancreatic Cancer Europe & United European Gastroenterology).

Read the full report Pancreatic Cancer Across Europe Taking a united stand



Call for closer links between GPs and dentists

OnMedica | November 2018 | Call for closer links between GPs and dentists
The British Dental Association Scotland, are calling for greater coordination between health professionals, as well as checks to ensure patients have regular dental check ups, and improved detection and prevention of oral cancer. Oral Cancer a plan for action, focuses on prevention, early detection and having better referral pathways to ensure good links between dentists, GPs and pharmacists 


Last year in the UK, 2,722 people died after developing oral cancer. The 10-year survival rate is between 19% and 58%, depending on where the cancer strikes and how early it is diagnosed. Oral cancer kills three times more people than road traffic accidents in Scotland. Mouth and throat cancers are among the most unequally distributed cancers in the population, with incidence of mouth cancers, and mortality from mouth cancers, both over twice as high in people in the most deprived areas of Scotland (Source: Oral Cancer a plan for action).

Full story OnMedica Call for closer links between GPs and dentists

Read Oral Cancer a plan for action


Securing a cancer workforce for the best outcomes

Cancer Research UK|November 2018 |Securing a cancer workforce for the best outcomes: the future demand for cancer workforce in England

Cancer Research UK (CRUK) has published Securing a cancer workforce for the best outcomes: the future demand for cancer workforce in England, this document comes in response 

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To successfully anticipate workforce needs in cancer, it is essential to consider both how
many patients are expected to be diagnosed and treated in the future, and the likely areas in which cancer services will change. As such CRUK wanted to explore the future demand for staff in more depth, to demonstrate how this approach could be taken in a long-term plan for the workforce. CRUK  wanted this to highlight the scale of increase required to meet the future needs of cancer patients, as well as consider what impact potential changes in services could have on staffing requirements in the NHS. CRUK commissioned 2020 Delivery to develop the model that we used to generate these estimates (Source: CRUK). 

The document argues that:

  • A demand-led approach is needed;
  • staff numbers may need to double to meet demand;
  • changes in the NHS will need even more staff;
  • a long term plan for the workforce (is needed)

Read the full publication at CRUK

Breast Cancer Care launches Alexa tool to help women spot key signs

Breast Cancer Care (BCC) has launched a virtual tool on Amazon’s Alexa which shares information on the signs and symptoms of breast cancer | via Digital Health

The tool can help guide women through a breast check and highlight the eight most common signs and symptoms of breast cancer to look out for.

Addie Mitchell, clinical nurse specialist at BCC, told Digital Health News that she hoped the digital tool would help give women more confidence to check for breast cancer. She said: “It gives them the confidence and assurance of being able to check in their own home. Checking for symptoms of breast cancer can cause a lot of anxiety as they don’t know what to look for, but the Alexa tool can help by listing the eight common ones.”

Mitchell added that the Alexa tool will also prompt users who may think they have one or more of the symptoms to get it checked out by their GP.

Full story at Digital Health

Obesity is second biggest cause of cancer after smoking

Obesity is the biggest preventable cause of cancer after smoking with around 22,800 cases of cancer in the UK caused by excess body weight every year | Cancer Research UK

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Cancer Research UK has produced a resource containing answers to common questions from patients, tips on how to discuss weight management with patients who are overweight or obese and a campaign poster.

Free copies can be ordered from the Cancer Research UK website, where pharmacists and pharmacy staff can also sign up to receive future copies of the Cancer Insight newsletter.

Breast screening: leading a service

Information for local providers and commissioners on leading NHS breast screening services | Public Health England

This guidance sets out the principles for the organisation and leadership of local breast screening services.  The guidance is aimed at those who are responsible for making sure breast screening services are managed in a professional and effective way. This involves meeting agreed standards and continually striving to improve performance.

The guidance looks at the following areas:

1.Senior leadership team roles

2.Core management skills for the senior leadership team

3.Organisation of screening services

4.Breast screening service workforce

Full guidance: Breast screening: leading a service

The NHS breast screening programme (BSP) covers the screening pathway from identification of the eligible population to diagnosis of women with breast cancer.

Related content:  NHS breast screening (BSP) programme