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News digest – sunbeds, phone apps, a pill to prevent breast cancer and more

Posted Jan 19 2013 12:00am
  • On the subject of skin cancer, US experts warned this week that smartphone apps that claim to detect skin cancer could delay proper medical diagnosis and potentially life-saving treatment. Read this Daily Mail article or our news story for more info.
  • We were happy to see news this week that the drug tamoxifen could soon be recommended to help prevent breast cancer in women with a strong family history of the disease – read this BBC article for more info. But as this Guardian piece rightly points out , giving any drug to someone who is healthy is a tricky decision, as no drug is without potential side effects.
  • Popping a pill to prevent cancer is an exciting prospect, for obvious reasons. This interview with Professor Jack Cuzick – who was involved in the trials of tamoxifen to prevent breast cancer – is well worth reading if you want to know more about the concept of preventive therapy for cancer.

  • The national programme to vaccinate young girls against HPV to protect against cervical cancer should be extended to gay men, according to the British Medical Association. Read this Independent article for more information.
  • MPs have strongly criticised the lack of clarity on the new drug pricing system called value-based pricing, which will come into effect next year. Here’s our news story , and the BBC also had a good article about it. And on the blog , our policy team explained how Cancer Research UK provided information for the report.
  • We launched two new cancer drug trials in collaboration with pharma companies Astex ( press release ) and AstraZeneca ( press release ). These are the result of our Clinical Development Partnerships programme, which aims to resurrect drugs that pharma companies may have left on the shelf, but which may have other uses.
  • Setting up an independent regulatory agency to cap cigarette manufacturers’ profits would raise an extra £500 million a year, academics said this week ( here’s our news story ). The “Ofsmoke” agency to regulate the industry would increase tax revenue and protect public health.
  • But poorly conducted research is a gift to the opponents of tobacco control, according to this interesting article in the Guardian this week.
  • Advertisements claiming that a brand of electronic cigarettes is “completely harmless” were banned this week after a watchdog ruled that they misled consumers. Our news story and this Daily Mail article have more detail.
  • Genomic research is “ changing the way we think about cancer ”, according to Cancer Research UK’s Dr Kat Arney (an editor of this blog). There’s no doubt that research will produce more and more genetic data over the coming years, and this BBC article about how ‘big data DNA’ is changing the face of medicine is also fascinating.
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