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News digest – galaxies and tumours, childhood cancer trials, doctor delays, and more

Posted Feb 23 2013 12:00am
  • The number one reason people say they might delay seeing their GP is difficulty making an appointment. Our press release has more info and the story was widely covered in regional media, and in The Independent .
  • Could star-gazing help in the fight against cancer? Cancer Research UK scientists and astronomers teamed up this week to do just that. The Daily Mail and the BBC both covered the work, and we blogged about it and our pioneering CellSlider project – the first ever public cancer research endeavour that you can do from the comfort of your own home.
  • Sticking with high-tech partnerships, IBM has announced that its supercomputer, ‘Watson’ – famous for winning US TV gameshow Jeapordy! – is being drafted in to service against cancer in the States. Find out more at Wired .
  • NICE is considering recommending a test called Oncotype DX for routine use on the NHS. The test can help doctors predict which breast cancer patients are suitable for chemotherapy
  • The UK’s research councils are investing £2million in a project to develop better microscope technologies, split between University of York and our London Research Institute – here’s York Uni’s press release .
  • Last week we brought you news of a new immune therapy that’s being tested against liver cancer. Here’s a blog post on the technical details of how it works .
  • According to Reuters , the United States’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new breast cancer drug – known as trastuzumab emtansine, or TDM-1 – for women with advanced disease. We blogged about this interesting new drug last year , and will be keeping an eye on it as it moves through the European regulators.
  • Having too many copies of a gene linked to breast cancer might be the reason why some bowel cancer patients fail to respond to certain targeted drugs. This British Journal of Cancer press release has further detail.
  • Staying with bowel cancer, we were pleased to learn that most people who had a test for the disease – soon to be incorporated into the national bowel screening programme – were glad to have gone through the experience. Known as flexi-scope or bowel scope, this test has the potential to save thousands of lives, so people being satisfied with the test is important. Here’s our press release .
  • The BBC has several good science stories this week. Our top picks include this story about the myth of declining drug breakthroughs and one asking whether hospitals legitimise junk food .
  • This Daily Mail story on hair dye and cancer should be read alongside our page about the overall evidence on the link (which is not clear cut). We also think that headlines about regularly eating chips increasing prostate cancer risk aren’t helpful. The results rely on men remembering what they ate some years ago, and such studies are limited because of their unreliability. So we can’t be certain if there’s a link between fried food and prostate cancer.
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