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  • Four lifestyle changes for fourteen years of life - Cancer Research UK - Science blog
    week the Norfolk group published a paper which showed that a combination of four healthy behaviours not smoking drinking alcohol moderately keeping active and eating fruit and vegetables can add up to 14 years onto one s life The researchers studied 20 000 healthy people aged 45 79 over the course of 11 years assessing their lifestyle choices and tracking their health Each person was given a health score of 0 to 4 with one point for each of the following healthy behaviours not smoking keep physically active defined as having an active job or doing more than 30 minutes of exercise a day having a moderate alcohol intake 1 14 units a week eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day as measured by the amount of vitamin C in their blood After adjusting for the participants age social class gender and body weight the EPIC researchers found that the combination of the four behaviours had a strong impact on their health Compared to people who ticked all four healthy boxes those who scored 0 were four times more likely to have died within the 11 year period They had a higher risk of dying from cancer and an even higher risk of dying from heart disease Even people who scored 2 out of 4 were twice as likely to have died What s more the study found that people with scores of 0 had the same risk of dying by the end of the study as people with scores of 4 who were 14 years older By making unhealthy choices they had effectively lost a substantial 14 years of life These results are very striking but it s worth noting that the study had certain weaknesses The four point scale is a fairly crude measure It gives a rough look at a person s lifestyle but obviously there are many degrees of inactivity or drinking It did not look at obesity a known cause of cancer heart disease and other chronic conditions Given that the majority of people in the study were either overweight or obese their body weight could have a large effect on their health on top of the four behaviours that were studied Increasing someone s lifespan is an empty victory without also improving their quality of life and this study did not look at that It would be equally important to work out how the quartet of behaviours affected their chance of developing diseases in the first place It will also be interesting to see if the results apply to people younger than the studied age group of 45 79 Obviously it s great to see that no matter how late in life healthy behaviours can make a difference but it s also worth knowing how beneficial they are early on in life Despite these issues the study is a relatively strong one and based on its results the benefits of making multiple healthy lifestyle changes has never been clearer Share

    Original URL path: http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2008/01/10/four-lifestyle-changes-for-fourteen-years-of-life/ (2016-02-11)
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  • A £6 million commitment to prevent more cancers - Cancer Research UK - Science blog
    really want to benefit from knowledge in other countries says Davies Why is prevention research so important The numbers are stark In the UK more than 331 000 people were diagnosed with cancer in 2011 But that s set to increase further over the next few decades That will put a huge burden on the NHS especially as treatments get more expensive So finding out how to prevent the disease becomes ever more critical For Davies the idea is to do everything possible to reduce people s risk of developing cancer and so limit the number of people being diagnosed with the disease Prevention has to happen we can t sustain just treating people she says One of the initiative s focuses as might be expected will be on tobacco control policies Keeping smoking rates in decline Tobacco is the biggest preventable cause of cancer King points out that decades of research have shown that the links between smoking and multiple forms of cancer are indisputable with half of all long term tobacco users dying from their addiction Reducing smoking prevalence in the UK by just 1 per cent she says would save 3 000 lives per year from cancer alone So discouraging people particularly children from becoming addicted to tobacco is essential to reduce their lifetime cancer risk and that s one of the reasons behind our Setting the Standard campaign to give children one less reason to start smoking Standardised tobacco packaging is a vital evidence based policy which will reduce the appeal of tobacco marketing to children and in doing so the terrible burden of tobacco addiction on generations to come In Australia in the period during which standard packs went on the shelves smoking rates fell to an all time low But to keep rates moving downwards we will need new tobacco control policies based on new evidence and the expertise to get them implemented Preventing cancers across the board But it s not just about tobacco We know we can do more to better understand the other known causes of cancer that may be preventable The level of evidence we have on the links between tobacco smoking and cancer didn t happen by chance and we want to try and replicate that model for the other known causes of cancer that are potentially preventable says King Among these are poor diet obesity and alcohol consumption which are linked to more than 60 000 cases of cancer every year Understanding these risk factors along with many others is of huge importance As the evidence builds our initiative will be looking for new ways to develop this knowledge into the most effective policies to raise awareness and promote behaviour change We need a stronger evidence base to decide which policies are most effective in those areas adds King Tackling social deprivation It should never be the case that where someone lives increases their risk of getting cancer And yet as we recently showed income deprivation is responsible

    Original URL path: http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2014/08/11/a-6-million-commitment-to-prevent-more-cancers/ (2016-02-11)
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  • Breast cancer in the UK: can we do even better? - Cancer Research UK - Science blog
    in the late stages stage 4 had only 28 per cent chance of surviving for three years It s highly likely that all countries in this study could benefit even more from efforts to diagnose more breast cancers in the early stages Early stage breast cancer the UK is as good as the best And there was more good news When diagnosed at the earliest stage stage 1 women in the UK were just as likely as women in Norway or Sweden to survive breast cancer In fact when diagnosed at stage 1 more than 99 per cent of women survived their disease for at least 3 years in all countries included in the study This suggests all of these countries are good at treating early stage breast cancer Late stage breast cancer the UK lags behind Unfortunately the same wasn t true for UK women diagnosed with breast cancer in the more advanced stages By stage 3 or 4 when breast cancers had spread to the lymph nodes or to other parts of the body breast cancer patients in the UK fared considerably worse than those in all other countries studied Only 28 per cent of women diagnosed with breast cancer that had spread to the bones liver lung or brain stage 4 survived their disease for at least three years compared to 42 per cent of Swedish women At stage 3 the picture is somewhat better but UK patients still do worse than their counterparts in other countries with 71 per cent surviving their disease for at least three years while in Canada 82 per cent survive If late diagnosis is unlikely to be behind the UK s relatively poor breast cancer survival what could be the explanation Are the figures comparable One possible explanation for the UK s poorer survival rates at stages 3 and 4 could be that we are comparing apples and oranges We have up to now assumed that stage 3 breast cancer in Sweden is identical to a stage 3 breast cancer in Canada and that a stage 4 breast cancer is the same whether you are in the UK or Norway But what if this isn t the case To find out how advanced a breast cancer is doctors use tests and scans to work out whether it has spread to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body This is known as staging You can find out more about these tests and scans on our website If doctors in some countries were more likely to send breast cancer patients for scans and tests we might expect these countries to be more likely to find evidence that cancers had spread to lymph nodes bones or liver than a country that did not do the same tests Let s take a hypothetical scenario let s say doctors in country A are less likely to send breast cancer patients for bone scans than doctors in country B So in country A some patients

    Original URL path: http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2013/03/01/breast-cancer-in-the-uk-can-we-do-even-better/ (2016-02-11)
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  • Lung cancer in the UK – earlier diagnosis and better treatment are crucial - Cancer Research UK - Science blog
    found that one year survival for the non small cell form ranged from 30 per cent in the UK to 46 per cent of patients in Sweden Similarly the UK had the lowest one year survival for small cell lung cancer 25 per cent compared to 36 per cent in Sweden The researchers also worked out the proportion in each country who were diagnosed at each stage of the disease The proportion diagnosed at an early stage was slightly lower for non small cell cancers in the UK and Denmark in comparison to the other countries Specifically in the UK only one in seven patients with non small cell lung cancer was diagnosed at the earliest stage of the disease compared with one in five in Sweden and Canada countries with better lung cancer survival than the UK But there was also good news the UK was among the best at diagnosing small cell lung cancers at the earliest stages What does it mean Taken together this suggests that late diagnosis is one reason why the UK s lung cancer survival is lagging behind the best performing countries and suggests that diagnosing lung cancers at an earlier stage could help to improve the situation in the UK Thankfully work is already in hand to try to diagnose lung cancers earlier For example we re working with the Department of Health DH to promote earlier diagnosis and we re co chair the National Awareness and Early Diagnosis Initiative NAEDI This includes the DH funded Be Clear on Cancer campaigns which encourage people to visit their GP sooner rather than later You can read the topline findings from the campaigns in the DH s Improving Outcomes A Strategy for Cancer report Linking stage to survival The new study also went on to look at how patients diagnosed at each stage of the disease fared subsequently and how this differed between countries For non small cell disease seven out of 10 UK patients with the earliest stage disease survived for at least a year compared with about nine out of 10 people in Sweden where survival at this stage was best Similarly for small cell lung cancer around six out of 10 early stage patients survived for at least a year compared with seven out of 10 in Sweden So even though we might be better than other countries at picking up small cell lung cancer at the earliest stages UK patients still have a lower chance of surviving for at least a year Patients in the UK diagnosed at more advanced stages of both types of lung cancer also had among the worst one year survival in the study Put simply lung cancer patients in the UK are faring poorly compared to patients in other similar countries irrespective of what stage the disease is picked up Why might this be There are a number of possibilities We ve discussed these in depth in the previous ovarian cancer post but to recap The

    Original URL path: http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2013/02/12/lung-cancer-in-the-uk-earlier-diagnosis-and-better-treatment-are-crucial/ (2016-02-11)
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  • Treating late-stage ovarian cancer – why does the UK do so badly? - Cancer Research UK - Science blog
    one team led by Cancer Research UK s survival expert Professor Michel Coleman who are looking at differences in survival between different countries and possible reasons why What did they measure The team pulled together healthcare data from women diagnosed with ovarian cancer between 2004 and 2007 in each of the five countries Two of the key statistics they calculated for each country in the study were the proportion of women diagnosed at each stage of the disease more on this below and the relative survival rates at each stage Survival rates measure the proportion of patients still alive a certain period after being diagnosed A common measure is five year relative survival so if a disease is said to have an 80 per cent five year survival that means that for every 100 patients diagnosed with the disease 80 of them will survive their disease for at least five years on average We discussed survival rates in more detail in this post about the ICBP from last December The new ICBP study looked at the one year survival rate for women with each of the stages This shows directly how many patients are diagnosed at an early stage and how many are picked up with late stage disease and how women with different stages survive in the short term A cancer s stage is a measure of how advanced it is when doctors first diagnose it there s detailed information about this on our main website But for a variety of reasons this isn t routinely collected for all cancer patients One of the main reasons that the ICBP involves the UK Norway Canada Australia and Denmark is because they re countries which have long established complete and reliable data But collecting stage data from different countries is fraught with difficulties as there are different methods of classifying stages One system for ovarian cancer is the FIGO system used in the UK and widely around Europe which defines tumours as stage I II III and IV with stage I being the earliest But Australia the US and other countries use different system SEER SS2000 which has just three categories localised corresponding to FIGO stage I regional stage II and distant stage III and IV combined Since it s possible to convert FIGO stages to SEER stages but not the other way round converting everything to the SEER system allowed the team to compare ovarian cancer staging across all five countries In all they were able to collate information on stage and survival for just over 20 000 women in the analysis What did they find Surprisingly given our lower overall survival the team found that the UK actually had one of higher proportions of women diagnosed at an early stage just under a quarter substantially better than Denmark Norway or Canada You can see the data in the table below Country cancers diagnosed early cancers diagnosed at an intermediate stage cancers diagnosed late UK 22 14 64 Denmark 12

    Original URL path: http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2012/10/03/treating-late-stage-ovarian-cancer-why-does-the-uk-do-so-badly/ (2016-02-11)
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  • New study shows that cancer survival is improving, but there’s more work to be done - Cancer Research UK - Science blog
    who die of cancer as opposed to people with cancer who die cancer survival Compared with survival rates mortality rates are relatively easy to obtain since the data is drawn from the information on patients death certificates But mortality rates don t tell us anything about how quickly after diagnosis a death occurs so they don t give us the whole picture Relative survival on the other hand allows statisticians to say something about the time between diagnosis and death and therefore the influence of a country s health system on how a patient fares But calculating relative survival rates is a complicated business requiring high quality data from cancer registries organisations that track cases of cancer as well as death certificate information And you need to link a person s record of being diagnosed to their death certificate What did the researchers calculate and why In the Lancet paper the ICBP module one team led by Cancer Research UK survival expert Professor Michel Coleman calculated one year five year and conditional five year relative survival rates for four different cancer types across six different countries One year survival is an important measure For many cancers lower than average one year survival rates tend to suggest people are being diagnosed later when treatment is often less effective Five year survival tells us more about the effects of treatment and is a widely used measure of cancer survival In many ways the most interesting measurement they calculated was the conditional five year survival the proportion of patients who survived the first year who are still alive at five years This gives a sense of how good a country s quality of long term cancer treatment and other care is in a group of patients who should have better outcomes as they have managed to survive the first year The team looked at survival in four cancer types They chose lung bowel and breast cancer because together these cancers account for over four out of ten cancer deaths but also because they tend to have differing prognoses poor intermediate and good respectively Ovarian cancer was also chosen as an example of a less common cancer that is often diagnosed late The researchers compared data from the UK excluding Scotland Australia Canada Sweden Norway and Denmark What did they find Figure 1 click to enlarge The good news is that survival rates are improving in all of these countries in all four cancer types as you can see in the graph to the right see figure 1 Encouragingly the team also found that the rate of improvement in the UK was in general slightly better than in other countries particularly in breast cancer where we have made extremely good progress However taking bowel cancer as an example figure 2 relative survival in the UK is the least impressive of all six countries covered in the research despite the fact that it s improved by nearly 6 percentage points from what it was in

    Original URL path: http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2010/12/22/new-study-shows-that-cancer-survival-is-improving-but-there%E2%80%99s-more-work-to-be-done/ (2016-02-11)
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  • Radiotherapy report: vast improvements needed to get the best for patients - Cancer Research UK - Science blog
    five years a growing and ageing population means that unless there is a significant change demand will continue to outstrip supply More people should be getting advanced radiotherapy Advanced radiotherapy such as IMRT and IGRT can be more effective and have fewer side effects But the report shows that only four of 50 radiotherapy centres are providing enough of it Some centres are delivering no advanced radiotherapy at all We need more radiotherapy machines and those we do have need updating The report says that that by 2016 we need to increase the numbers of linear accelerators which deliver radiotherapy from 265 to 412 And if that isn t challenging enough all machines should be replaced once they are 10 years old By this standard 26 machines need replacing now and a further 92 will need replacing by 2016 That s 265 new machines We ll need to buy at least one a week for the next four years And at more than 1m a machine and that s before we ve considered the building costs to house them significant investment is required Different doctors are giving different treatments for the same cancers The report states that for lung cancer and head and neck cancers patients are being offered shorter treatment programmes than their counterparts in Europe What s worrying is that there don t appear to be good reasons why this is happening Patients over 75 are less likely to receive radiotherapy than their younger counterparts And we urgently need to work out why But there is good news too Waiting times are down which is saving an estimated 2 500 lives a year Six new radiotherapy treatment sites opened in the last five years and four more are in the pipeline This means that patients don t have to travel as far to receive treatment particularly important if you re going every day for a few weeks to get your radiotherapy And more patients are getting the opportunity to take part in radiotherapy trials than ever before But because of the way that radiotherapy has been prioritised and paid for change has been difficult and in some cases painfully slow What else is happening At Cancer Research UK we re also extremely concerned by the shortfall in advanced radiotherapy The report says that if patients aren t being offered techniques like IMRT when this would be the most appropriate treatment for them they could be experiencing side effects they might have otherwise been spared Last month we welcomed the government s announcement of a new 15m of a Radiotherapy Innovation Fund to try to jump start improvements and the commitment that all patients will have access to cost effective radiotherapy treatments their doctors think they need from April 2013 The Fund aims to improve access to advanced radiotherapy by bringing all centres up to the minimum standard for radiotherapy treatments particularly IMRT Cancer Research UK is working with experts from the National Radiotherapy Implementation Group NRIG and the

    Original URL path: http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2012/11/06/radiotherapy-report-vast-improvements-needed-to-get-the-best-for-patients/ (2016-02-11)
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  • Sparking the radiotherapy revival - Cancer Research UK - Science blog
    the Government launching the Radiotherapy Innovation Fund initially 15 million but later boosted to 23 million to help NHS Trusts in England provide more patients with access to advanced radiotherapy Today Cancer Research UK the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine The Royal College of Radiologists and The Society and College of Radiographers have published a report evaluating its impact It s easy to see why the Fund has been such a good news story in England It was set up to help the country s 50 radiotherapy centres deliver more of an advanced form of treatment called Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy IMRT to suitable patients This allows the radiotherapy beam to be more targeted to a patient s cancer and therefore cause less damage to surrounding healthy issue and can help reduce the side effects as the images below demonstrates Intensity modulated radiotherapy or IMRT delivers a lower dose to a patient s tissues This particular form of radiotherapy has been around for a while but many of the radiotherapy services in England just haven t had the capacity to give it to their patients At the time of the Prime Minister s announcement on average fewer than 14 per cent of patients were receiving IMRT well below the recommended 24 per cent Our report shows that following the delivery of the Fund the average delivery of IMRT in April 2013 was up to over 22 per cent a fantastic achievement in such a short space of time This means that around 5 800 more patients across England will now be in line to benefit from IMRT than last year We expect that this figure will keep on rising IMRT also can avoid damaging organs like the salivary glands reducing side effects So how did this come about Each Trust used their allocation to buy specialist equipment and to train staff to perform IMRT This sort of investment means that hospitals across England are in a better position to give advanced radiotherapy Before last year the radiotherapy service in England had been underfunded and neglected despite the crucial role it plays in cancer treatment Now that Government the NHS and hospitals are becoming more aware of its importance we must maintain the momentum and continue to push for improvements Not the end of the story But the work doesn t stop here as well as IMRT there are still other types of radiotherapy that some patients are missing out on which we think the NHS should be doing more to provide These involve using imaging in real time to track the treatment so called image guided radiotherapy or IGRT and using smaller more accurate beams But much more importantly we have some serious concerns about the long term capabilities of the NHS to cater to the increasing need for radiotherapy As cancer rates increase and we get better at diagnosing the disease earlier which gives us more opportunity to treat the tumour with radiotherapy the demand on radiotherapy services

    Original URL path: http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2013/07/11/sparking-the-radiotherapy-revival/ (2016-02-11)
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