Sugar and cancer – what you need to know

There’s a lot of confusing information and advice out there around sugar. It’s been made the villain of our diet, but where does the consensus lie between how sugar and cancer are linked? | Cancer Research UK Science Blog

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Does it cause cancer? Does sugar feed cancer cells, making them grow more aggressively? And how does the sugar we consume through food and drink affect our health, and what can be done about this?

In this post we’re taking a long hard look at sugar.

We’ll focus specifically on sugar and cancer, busting some myths and covering what researchers are studying in the hopes of finding new ways to treat people with cancer.

And we’ll cover why the amount of sugar in our diets is cause for concern. A high-sugar diet can be bad news when it comes to cancer risk, but not for the reasons that often appear in the headlines.

But first the basics, what our bodies need sugar for and where it comes from in our diet.

Read the full blog post here

Cancer diagnosis in GP surgeries

Better GP access to cancer diagnostic tools would benefit doctors and patients, says RCGP |via OnMedica

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The Royal College of GPs has welcomed a £5 million grant aimed at giving GPs better access to cancer diagnostic tools. Cancer Research UK (CRUK), which is funding the research project, said having more effective ways to diagnose cancer in GP surgeries would save both doctors’ and patients’ time, and reduce anxiety for patients.

The charity announced its £5 million funding for the “revolutionary” CanTest project as part of its Catalyst Award, which it said “aims to help researchers from around the world deliver trailblazing progress in their field with long-lasting results”. CanTest will investigate and develop new ways for GPs, physician’s assistants and nurse practitioners to diagnose cancer in GP surgeries. It will assess the accuracy, cost effectiveness and suitability of a range of diagnostic methods and tools, with the aim of cutting both the wait for diagnosis and the number of referrals.

Read more:

Scientists discover drug combination slows lung cancer cell growth

B0006883 Lung cancer cells

Image shows lung cancer cell dividing. Source: Anne Weston, Wellcome images // CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Scientists have shown that a drug combination slows cancer cell growth in a type of non small cell lung cancer when tested in the lab, offering potential for developing new treatments in the future.  Cancer Research UK | British Journal of Cancer

The drug combination delivers a double whammy to the way the KRAS gene makes cancer cells grow. KRAS is estimated to be mutated in 15 to 25 per cent of people with non-small cell lung adenocarcinomas – a disease affecting around 10,400 people in England each year.

The study looked at whether blocking the functions of two proteins called MEK and m-TOR would stop or slow down the growth of non-small cell lung adenocarcinoma cells in the laboratory.

Full reference: Broutin, S. et al.  Insights into significance of combined inhibition of MEK and m-TOR signalling output in KRAS mutant non-small-cell lung cancer. Br J Cancer 115: 549-552; doi:10.1038/bjc.2016.220

Simpler bowel cancer test kit a ‘game changer’

Hundreds of thousands more people across England are likely to take up the offer of bowel cancer screening thanks to the introduction of a new and simpler home-testing kit, Public Health Minister Jane Ellison has announced.

It has been estimated that the new test will increase screening uptake by around 10% – meaning an additional 200,000 people could be tested each year. This means that hundreds of lives could be potentially saved, the Department of Health said.

Read more at Cancer Research UK

 

 

 

 

 

 

New research gives deeper understanding of why some breast cancers are hard to treat

Scientists have unearthed crucial new genetic information about how breast cancer develops and the genetic changes which can be linked to survival. via Science Daily

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image of breast cancer cells. image source: Annie Cavanagh, Wellcome Images//CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

The Cancer Research UK funded researchers, from the University of Cambridge, analysed tumour samples from the METABRIC study — which revealed breast cancer can be classified as 10 different diseases — to get a deeper understanding of the genetic faults of these 10 subtypes.

They found 40 mutated genes that cause breast cancer to progress. Only a fraction of these genes were previously known to be involved in breast cancer development. They also discovered that one of the more commonly mutated genes, called PIK3CA, is linked to lower chances of survival for three of the 10 breast cancer subgroups. Crucially, this might help explain why drugs targeting PIK3CA work for some women but not for others.

And the researchers think the results could in the future help find drugs to target these genetic faults, stopping the disease from progressing. The research could also provide vital information to help design breast cancer trials and improved tests for the disease.

Full reference: Pereira et al., The somatic mutation profile of 2,433 breast cancers refines their genomic and transcriptomic landscapes. Nature Communications, 2016.

Cancer Research UK press release: New research gives deeper understanding of why some breast cancers are hard to treat

Prostate cancer drug approved for routine use before chemotherapy

CRUK. 21 March 2016

Image shows false-coloured scanning electron micrograph of a single prostate cancer cell grown in culture

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has approvedthe drug abiraterone for men with advanced prostate cancer, who have not yet had chemotherapy.  The drug – developed by UK scientists – can delay the disease’s progression, help to prolong life, and provide a better quality of life with less fatigue and pain. It has been available across the UK for men after chemotherapy since 2012.

Today’s decision – a reversal of NICE’s previous ruling – brings England and Wales in line with Scotland, which approved(link is external) the drug for men pre-chemotherapy last year. NICE was able to rule favourably after the drug’s manufacturers, Janssen, provided new data showing the drug’s cost-effectiveness, and agreed a discount price for the NHS.

Under the discount, the NHS will pay for the first 10 months of treatment. For people who remain on treatment for more than 10 months, Janssen will cover the drug’s cost from the 11th month until the end of treatment.

Until now, the drug was only available to patients in England before chemotherapy through the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF), and was the second most requested medicine on the fund. Today’s approval means that drug can now also been removed from the Fund – which is the process of being reformed – and paid for routinely by the NHS.

Read the full commentary here