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News digest – tamoxifen, vinegar, Neanderthals, Michael Douglas and more

Posted Jun 08 2013 12:00am

Several important stories came out of the ASCO conference in Chicago this week:

  • Taking tamoxifen for 10 rather than five years halves the risk of women dying from the most common kind of breast cancer, according to our clinical trial. The Daily Mail covered the story, and our press release has more detail.
  • A low-cost vinegar-based screening test cut cervical cancer rates among Indian women by nearly a third. The Telegraph and Forbes both have more info.
  • On the treatment front for cervical cancer, a drug called bevacizumab was shown to prolong survival in women with advanced disease. Medscape has more detail .
  • There was a lot of buzz at the conference about a new class of cancer drugs called PD-1 inhibitors, which ‘unmask’ tumours that are invisible to the immune system. We wrote about these drugs’ early promise at last year’s conference, and it seems excitement is continuing to build. Here are our picks of the coverage: New Scientist , the New York Times , and NHS Choices .

There were plenty of other stories outside the conference walls:

  • Rather unexpectedly, Michael Douglas triggered a lot of coverage about the link between oral sex and throat cancer. This Independent piece is our pick of the print coverage, and our expert was interviewed on the Today programme. This Guardian Q&A is also great.
  • Anxiety is a greater risk than depression for long-term cancer survivors, according to research published this week. Read our news story for more info.
  • NICE issued landmark guidance recommending that licensed nicotine-containing products can be used to help people cut down on the amount they smoke. Here’s our news story .
  • New figures released by Macmillan hit the headlines ( here’s the BBC’s take ), showing that nearly half of us will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in our lives. The good news is that rates are increasing because we’re living longer, and survival rates have been on the up too.
  • But in a reminder that cancer’s been with us since prehistoric times, research in PLOS ONE showed that Neanderthals got cancer too, as reported here by the BBC.
  • Cancer rates in Japan aren’t expected to rise in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear incident, according to a new UN report .
  • We joined leading medical and research centres around the world this week to launch an ambitious project that will allow the sharing of vast amounts of genetic and clinical information. The Guardian and Nature have more detail about this exciting endeavour.
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