Scientists testing blood for prostate cancer

Here are the key cancer news headlines from the past week: 

Blood Tests Help to Monitor Cancer Treatment

In the UK, scientists at The Institute for Cancer Research and the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust have developed a new way of testing the effectiveness of prostate cancer treatments.

In a phase 2 clinical trial, scientists looked at cancer DNA in the blood over the course of a treatment regime. 

Cancer DNA decreased in patients who were responding well to the treatment. Cancer DNA increased in patients whose cancers were not responding well to the treatment.

By performing blood tests 4-8 weeks into the treatment course, doctors will be able to understand whether or not treatment is working. 

If a treatment stops working well, healthcare teams will be able to change their approach to fighting prostate cancer.

Teenage Cancer Patients Get New Service

In Northern Ireland, 5 charities have joined together to deliver a set of new and comprehensive services for teenage cancer patients.

The services will help to make sure that all teenage cancer patients have access to the care they need. Social workers, nurses, and community volunteers have joined together across the region to make sure that every patient has support.

This increase in service is much-needed and will ensure that young patients can receive care closer to home.

Rates of Cancer in Canada match those in the UK

In Canada, the Canadian Cancer Society has announced that almost ½ Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. This makes cancer the leading cause of death in the country.

These figures reflect Canada’s ageing population, and approximately 90% of cancer diagnoses will happen in those aged 50+. Still, cancer mortality rates are on a steep decline; having dropped by over 30% in men and 17% in women since 1988.

Advanced screening, an increased emphasis on healthy living, and a better understanding of risk factors like smoking and sun tanning have helped to lower these numbers. This demonstrates nicely the importance of working to be healthy and aware throughout our lives.

Rates of Liver Cancer in the United States on the Rise

South of the Canadian Border, Americans are struggling with mortality rates due to liver cancer. Deaths from liver cancer have doubled since the 1980s despite the fact that it is a very preventable type of cancer. 

This increase is due to several factors, including:

– Higher rates of hepatitis C in the ‘baby boomer” population

– Obesity, diabetes

– Excess alcohol consumption

– And smoking

The hepatitis C virus can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer. Baby boomers seem to have unusually high rates of Hep C and this is likely because transmission and prevention were not well understood until more recently. If you were born between 1945-1965, you should ensure you are tested for Hepatitis C.

#coverupmate Initiative Launches in the UK  

And lastly, in the UK, the NHS has launched a new initiative called “Cover Up, Mate” designed to help reduce rates of skin cancer in men who work outside.

Farmers, construction workers, and those involved in gardening or athletics should be extra attentive to the risks of sun exposure. They should also take necessary precautions to prevent sunburn.

Even if you don’t work outside, if you have fair skin, moles, freckles and light red or blonde hair, you should also be very careful in the sun. Most skin cancers are preventable, and with the proper precautions, you’ll avoid burning and will remain healthy.