Flexible new method for early cancer diagnosis

Earlier discovery of cancer and greater precision in the treatment process are the objectives of a new method recently developed. | ScienceDaily

Screening of at-risk groups for certain types of cancer, leading to earlier diagnosis, is being described as an area with major potential, both with regard to saving lives and saving money within healthcare. No tissue samples are needed for the method, and the tumor does not even need to be located. Investments are now being made to roll out this innovation across healthcare and broaden the scope of the research in this field.

The technique was created based on the fact that people with cancer also have DNA from tumor cells circulating in the blood, molecules that can be discovered in a regular blood sample long before the tumor is visible via imaging such as tomography, MRI, X-ray and ultrasound.

The researchers have now increased the sensitivity of detecting tumor DNA in blood thousand-fold by eliminating the background noise from the measurements using “DNA barcoding.”

Full story at ScienceDaily

Link to the research: Anders Ståhlberg, et al. Simple multiplexed PCR-based barcoding of DNA for ultrasensitive mutation detection by next-generation sequencing.  Nature Protocols, 2017; 12 (4): 664

Benefits and harms of breast cancer screening in women aged 40-49 years

Early detection of breast cancer through screening can lower breast cancer mortality rates and reduce the burden of this disease in the population | International Journal of Cancer

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In most western countries, mammography screening starting from age 50 is recommended. However, there is debate about whether breast cancer screening should be extended to younger women. This systematic review provides an overview of the evidence from RCT’s on the benefits and harms of breast cancer screening with mammography in women aged 40 to 49 years. The quality of the evidence for each outcome was appraised using the GRADE approach.

Four articles reporting on two different trials, the Age trial and the Canadian National Breast Screening Study-I (CNBSS-I), were included. The results showed no significant effect on breast cancer mortality (Age trial: RR 0.93, 95% CI 0.80-1.09; CNBSS-I: HR 1.10 (95% CI 0.86-1.40) nor on all-cause mortality (RR 0.98, 95% CI 0.93-1.03) in women aged 40 to 49 years offered screening. Among regularly attending women the cumulative risk of experiencing a false-positive recall was 20.5%. Overdiagnosis of invasive breast cancer at five years post cessation of screening for women aged 40to 49 years was estimated to be 32%; 20 years post cessation of screening 48%. Including ductal carcinoma in situ, these numbers were 41% and 55%.

Based on the current evidence from randomised trials, extending mammography screening to younger age groups cannot be recommended. However there were limitations including relatively low sensitivity of screening and screening attendance, insufficient power, and contamination, which may explain the non-significant results.

Full reference: van den Ende, C. et al. (2017) Benefits and harms of breast cancer screening with mammography in women aged 40-49 years: A systematic review. International Journal of Cancer. DOI: 10.1002/ijc.30794

Clinics should choose women’s breast screening appointment times to improve attendance

For women who miss a breast screening appointment, giving a fixed date and time for a new appointment could improve poor attendance and be a cost-effective way to shift national participation trends | ScienceDaily

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In England, participation in breast cancer screening has been falling in the last ten years, getting close to the national minimum standard of 70 per cent, with screening particularly low in areas of socioeconomic deprivation.

The NHS Breast Screening Programme (NHSBSP) invites women aged 50-70 to mammographic screening every three years. The usual practice for those who don’t attend their first offered appointment is to issue them with a second invitation letter. Some centres supply ‘open’ invitations, asking women to telephone to make an appointment, while others send an invitation with a fixed date and time, requiring no effort from the invitee to book an appointment.

Read the full overview via ScienceDaily here

Read the original research article here

Bowel cancer screening: benefits and risks

This leaflet explains the benefits and risks of bowel cancer screening in English, large print, 20 other languages and mp3 audio format | PHE

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Image source: PHE

Bowel cancer screening, the facts (Bengali)

Bowel cancer screening, the facts (Chinese)

Let’s talk about cancer: the Manchester project that aims to save lives

Cancer deaths in Greater Manchester are 10% higher than the UK average. A new volunteer scheme wants to change this | The Guardian

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The idea, led by Greater Manchester Cancer Vanguard Innovation, (part of Greater Manchester Cancer – the cancer programme of Greater Manchester’s devolved health and social care partnership), is to use people power to create a cultural shift in one of the UK’s cancer hot spots, and make it normal to talk about screening, healthier lifestyle options and catching symptoms early.

Working with the voluntary sector, the aim is to sign up 5,000 cancer champions by autumn 2017, and to reach 20,000 by 2019. Mobilising this cancer army is one of a series of measures to cut premature cancer deaths in the area by 1,300 by 2021.

Read the full news story here

Effect of population breast screening on breast cancer mortality up to 2005 in England and Wales

Johns, L.E. et al. (2017) British Journal of Cancer. 116. pp. 246–252.

Background: Population breast screening has been implemented in the UK for over 25 years, but the size of benefit attributable to such programmes remains controversial. We have conducted the first individual-based cohort evaluation of population breast screening in the UK, to estimate the impact of the NHS breast screening programme (NHSBSP) on breast cancer mortality.

Conclusions: The results indicate a substantial, statistically significant reduction in breast cancer mortality between 1991 and 2005 associated with NHSBSP activity. This is important in public health terms.

Read the full abstract and article here