News digest – lung cancer in non-smokers, targeted clinical trials, pancreatic cancer ‘chatter’ and immigration

news-digest-–-lung-cancer-in-non-smokers,-targeted-clinical-trials,-pancreatic-cancer-‘chatter’-and-immigration

Lung cancer in non-smokers is on the rise, experts say

1 in 6 people dying of lung cancer in the UK are non-smokers, according to new research from the Royal Society of Medicine. The Guardian covered the new figures, which found that around 6,000 non-smokers in the UK die of lung cancer each year. Experts have suggested that the stigma of smoking has stalled investment in lung cancer research and said it’s time to give lung cancer “the recognition it deserves.” We blogged before about why never-smokers get lung cancer.

Reading tumour DNA could match patients to early stage clinical trials

When a patient’s cancer stops responding to available treatments, clinical trials could provide new options. But only if there’s one available. Our scientists in Manchester are testing if reading a tumour’s DNA could help match patients to early stage clinical trials of targeted medicines. 100 patients have had their cancer DNA read so far, with 11 enrolled onto a clinical trial. It’s still early days, but scientists hope the study could help develop a new approach to treating patients with advanced cancers. The Times (£) and our press release have more.

Early research hints at ways to make CAR T cell therapy safer

CAR T cell therapy is one of the most talked-about immunotherapies of the last few years. But while the treatment has shown promise in certain types of blood cancers and is now available on the NHS for a small number of patients, the side effects can be severe. But early research could hint at ways to change that. Scientists have tinkered with the treatment to look for changes that reduced side effects without losing the benefits, as STAT News explains.

Listening in on pancreatic cancer ‘chatter’ in mice

Scientists have found a new way that cells surrounding pancreatic cancers can help the tumours grow in mice. While the research is still at an early stage, scientists believe the discovery could open the door to studies into potential new treatments, as our news report explains.

Improve access to new cancer treatments, say experts

Scientists at the Institute of Cancer Research have called for improved access to treatments in the UK, reports The Times (£). They’ve released a ’10-point plan’ to help improve patient’s ability to access new cancer drugs, including testing drugs in smaller, smarter clinical trials and being more flexible on age limits to allow children with cancer onto more clinical trials. In a survey of over 1,000 cancer patients, half of patients who want to enrol on clinical trials said they were unable to do so. Experts also called for more flexible drug pricing, which we’ve blogged about before.

NHS cancer checks in England top 2 million for first time in 2018

The NHS in England carried out a record 2.2 million cancer checks in 2018, up from 1.9 million the previous year. The Mail Online covered the new NHS England figures, which some experts have linked to a greater awareness of symptoms.

NHS execs warn against ‘destructive’ immigration policy

Government proposals to impose a £30,000 salary threshold on workers moving to the UK have been described as the “most destructive policy proposal for NHS recruitment”. In leaked minutes from a meeting between NHS and Whitehall officials, senior health leaders claimed the policy could force hospitals to close “25% of services”, according to the Telegraph.

A doctor’s opinion on cancer care inequalities

Dr Ranjana Srivastava, a cancer specialist in Australia, has shared her opinion on the “staggering inequalities” in cancer care in her regular column in The Guardian. The thought-provoking piece calls for funding to give every patient access to a cancer nurse.

And finally

Scientists in London and Edinburgh are on the hunt for new ways to target a rare form of leukaemia. They’ve pulled out a potential new target in lab studies of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), which was found at high levels in cancer cells but not in other blood cells. The target, known by the catchy name YTHDF2, was needed to promote and maintain cancer development. It’s an interesting prospect, but the Evening Standard’s talk of it being AML’s ‘Achilles heel’, which came from the press release, is perhaps premature.

Katie 

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