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  • Doing the twist on damaged DNA – Simon Boulton wins the Paul Marks cancer research prize - Cancer Research UK - Science blog
    to identify DNA damage genes in the worms many of which turned out to be related to human genes involved in cancer The next step was to find out how they worked and what they were doing Worming a way back to the UK In 2002 Dr Boulton returned to the UK where he had been offered the chance to set up his own lab at our Clare Hall campus part of the prestigious Cancer Research UK London Research Institute It was a great opportunity to come to Clare Hall I ve always been open to approaching a problem from a new perspective and not being afraid to try something new When I set up the lab I wanted to go across different model organisms to answer questions about DNA repair using worms yeast and mammalian cells We also use mouse models for the things you simply can t do with worms such as the impact of DNA damage on tumorigenesis the process that leads to cancer Over the past decade Dr Boulton and his team have made a number of significant discoveries about some of the genes and molecules involved in repairing damage to DNA In particular his work has focused on a type of damage known as double strand breaks where the DNA ladder is completely severed Double strand breaks can be caused by a range of things such as ionising radiation e g X rays or simply stuff going wrong as a cell copies its DNA when it divides But the breaks are extremely dangerous as they can lead to the wrong bits of DNA getting stuck back together again when they re repaired This wreaks havoc within a cell with important genes ending up in the wrong place where they can t be controlled correctly RTEL me a story Perhaps Dr Boulton s biggest contribution to the field of cancer research has been uncovering and understanding the role of a molecule called RTEL1 This protein plays a vital role in controlling double strand break repair He explains It acts a bit like a reverse gear for the repair machinery it allows cells to undo situations where they re about to repair damage incorrectly But there has to be a balance as if there s too much RTEL1 then it takes apart productive repair events and cells can t repair their DNA properly But if there s not enough then the wrong DNA ends get glued together which is also very serious But there have been many other discoveries too Dr Boulton also studies molecules called helicases which untwist and unzip DNA so it can be copied and repaired and has made significant findings about several of them He and his team are now starting to make chemicals that can block some of the molecules they ve found with the hope of developing new drugs for cancer But it s taken eight or nine years of painstaking hard work to get to this point Colleagues and friends

    Original URL path: http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2013/09/23/doing-the-twist-and-damaged-dna-simon-boulton-wins-the-paul-marks-cancer-research-prize/ (2016-02-11)
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  • Aspirin’s a ‘wonder-drug’ – but can it prevent cancer? - Cancer Research UK - Science blog
    of this happening in people who regularly take aspirin even at low doses A good example is a Danish paper published in the American Journal of Gastoenterology in 2000 This followed over 27 000 people who regularly took low dose aspirin and compared rates of gastrointestinal bleeding in these people with rates in the general population There were 207 cases of bleeding in the study group over twice what was found in the general population Aspirin also can cause tinnitus ringing in the ears although only at high doses Regular long term use of other non aspirin NSAIDs has been shown to increase the risk of heart problems including heart attacks and strokes Does it prevent cancer Most of the evidence that aspirin might be able to stop or slow cancers from forming comes from studies of people who already take NSAIDs on a regular basis e g for conditions such as chronic pain heart disease or arthritis These studies often find that cancer rates are lower amongst these people than in the general population Some studies compellingly also find a dose response effect the more you take the lower your risk There are several cancers for which this evidence is particularly strong bowel cancer breast cancer and oesophageal food pipe cancer Some studies also suggest that it can lower risks of lung stomach mouth prostate and ovarian cancers although this evidence is much weaker Let s look at the evidence cancer by cancer Bowel cancer Bowel cancer There s growing evidence that bowel cancer is caused by long term low level chronic inflammation of the walls of the gut We discussed inflammation and cancer last July So given aspirin s potent anti inflammatory properties it s reasonable to speculate that it might prevent bowel cancer In 1997 a report by the International Agency for Research on Cancer IARC concluded that there was indeed limited evidence that aspirin reduces bowel cancer risk in humans Since then more and more studies have come out in support of this a good example being a 2005 paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association which concluded Regular long term aspirin use reduces risk of bowel cancer However a significant benefit of aspirin is not apparent until more than a decade of use with maximal risk reduction at doses greater than 14 tablets per week Our emphasis The women in this study were taking 325mg aspirin tablets Two of these a day for a decade is a lot of aspirin The low dose aspirin regime recommended for stroke and heart attack prevention is 75mg per day In 2007 two large meta analyses also looked at the risks vs benefits for both aspirin and other NSAIDs for bowel cancer prevention and both concluded that for the time being the risks outweigh the benefits Meta analysis is a mathematical technique that adds up the results from lots of individual studies to give an overall view of the evidence So looking at all the evidence for aspirin and bowel cancer three things become apparent A large regular dose of aspirin over a long time clearly reduces the risk of the disease This dose is far higher than the dose recommended and proven safe for long term use The data for lower doses is nothing like as clear cut A large randomised trial in 2005 even showed no effect Clearly blocking inflammation seems to be a good thing in terms of bowel cancer prevention but we don t yet know how to do this reliably and effectively using aspirin or any other NSAID Breast cancer Breast cancer The evidence for breast cancer and aspirin is much less consistent but still strong enough to make researchers think there s something interesting going on For example most of the studies that do show an effect tend to show the same sort of protective effect about 20 per cent lower than among women who don t take aspirin How might aspirin protect against breast cancer As mentioned above aspirin blocks the production of prostaglandins by cells containing the COX 2 enzyme One of the proteins that s activated by prostaglandins is another enzyme called aromatase Aromatase makes oestrogen And oestrogen is known to drive the development of breast cancer So there s a nice route for how aspirin could prevent breast cancer by indirectly lowering oestrogen levels This ties neatly into the research mentioned above showing a protective effect on oestrogen positive breast cancer But once again the dose needed to produce these effects is generally on the high side bringing unwanted side effects into play And it might be that aspirin increases the proportion of oestrogen negative tumours without affecting overall numbers which is worrying because oestrogen negative tumours are generally harder to treat Once again we need to fully understand what s going on before we could ever start talking about using aspirin to protect against breast cancer even for women at high risk of the disease Oesophgeal cancer Oesophageal cancer Again there s compelling evidence that aspirin has an effect as shown by several meta analyses e g this 2005 paper But there s even more inconsistency in these results than in the case of breast cancer Some studies claim that aspirin reduces the risk of oesophageal cancer by 20 per cent but others claim effects as large as 70 per cent So there s more work needed here to find out what s going on Other cancers Here the evidence is even less consistent Some papers show a protective effect for lung cancer others show non aspirin NSAIDs actually increase risk Research on prostate cancer has suggested a weak protective effect And a cursory search on PubMed an online database of published research using the terms NSAIDs cancer prevention shows over 2600 papers looking at a whole range of cancers Non aspirin NSAIDs Many of the papers discussed above also looked at NSAIDs other than aspirin such as ibuprofen There s consistent evidence that these also

    Original URL path: http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2008/05/13/aspirins-a-wonder-drug-but-can-it-prevent-cancer/ (2016-02-11)
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  • Can aspirin prevent cancer? - Cancer Research UK - Science blog
    week after the publication of a report led by a Cancer Research UK funded scientist The researchers gathered together all the available evidence on cancer prevention and concluded that there wasn t enough evidence to make strong recommendations particularly on aspirin dosage But there was certainly a suggestion that taking aspirin in your forties could help prevent cancer later in life But how realistic is this Should we all be popping aspirin as soon as we hit the big four oh Or do the risks outweigh the benefits We ve previously written about aspirin s apparent wonder drug powers and discussed how it might work to prevent certain cancers And as well as its role in preventing cancer the benefits of aspirin in cutting the risk of heart disease and stroke are well known The NHS Choices blog has a great and comprehensive analysis of this week s report which was published in the journal Lancet Oncology but it s worth highlighting a few key points Why is age important The review led by Professor Jack Cuzick from the Cancer Research UK Centre for Epidemiology at Queen Mary University of London suggests that the best prevention strategy might be for people to take aspirin from their mid forties for at least ten years This is because many cancers take years to grow particularly in the case of bowel tumours and often start while a person is in their late forties or early fifties So taking aspirin at this crucial age could lower the risk of tumours developing or hinder their growth Another important reason is that aspirin causes side effects including stomach ulcers and bleeding on the stomach and gut These side effects get more common with age and are much more likely to affect people in their 60s compared with people in their 40s What types of cancer can aspirin prevent There s good evidence that aspirin can help to prevent breast and bowel cancer two of the UK s most common cancers And there s some evidence that it may have an impact on the risk of some other types of cancer such as oesophageal cancer So should I be taking aspirin As with any medication especially if it is taken over a long period of time the risks and benefits of taking aspirin are something that should be discussed with a doctor Aspirin may seem like a harmless white tablet but the side effects from long term heavy usage can be significant and need to be balanced against the potential benefits And this is the key point of the Lancet Oncology report we just don t know what dose of aspirin will have the greatest cancer prevention effect balanced against the risk of side effects It s likely that in the future genetic studies will reveal who is most likely to benefit from taking aspirin for cancer prevention This will help doctors to tailor prevention strategies more accurately to suit an individual person rather than the educated

    Original URL path: http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2009/05/02/can-aspirin-prevent-cancer/ (2016-02-11)
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  • Aspirin and cancer – not quite, but nearly - Cancer Research UK - Science blog
    around the population Some are at higher risk of side effects Some people s genetic make up means they break down aspirin at different rates some faster some slower than average Some will have a lower risk of cancer without even taking the drug so they won t benefit as much though they may still experience side effects It s an extremely complex and still slightly murky picture So to be able to recommend aspirin to people in the full knowledge that the risks are being minimised and the benefits maximised doctors need to have a better idea of the following What age should people start and stop taking aspirin What dose should they take What are the factors that should rule someone out from taking aspirin and how should we test for them At the moment frustratingly there s no clear definitive answer to these questions And until there are we re discouraging people from stocking up on their own supplies of aspirin without seeking medical advice first So if you re worried about your risk of cancer and want to do something about it your first port of call should always be your GP Henry Reference http dx doi org 10 1093 annonc mdu225 Share this article More on this topic Tags Cancer in the news Cancer Research UK funded research Inflammation Preventing cancer Comments Click here to cancel reply mrs june meier September 10 2014 if aspirin helps to lower the risk of cancer then it could only be a good thing I had my breast removed three and half years ago from cancer and have another year and half before I get the all clear Nick Peel September 9 2014 Hi Roman thanks for your question The trials looking at the health effects of aspirin used low doses of aspirin every day for at least 5 years and they looked at aspirin alone rather than in any other combination This isn t the same as the use of aspirin or aspirin containing drugs to relieve a headache or when taken in any other pattern and we wouldn t be able to make any comments about your situation I m afraid We would recommend talking to your doctor about the medication you are taking as they may be able to offer some advice Nick Cancer Research UK Roman Kirsch September 9 2014 The main agent inside Aspirin tablets is acetylsalicyl acid I guess I regularly take Acifein tablets which contain also Paracetamolum the same dose 250 mg So does Acifein have the same effect against cancer Thanks for your reply J Ballantyne September 7 2014 I have been taking daily asprin 75mg daily since 2007 as a precautionary measure following diagnoses of Left Bundle Branch Block I was confirmed to have seminoma testicular cancer in 2011 In my case asprin was not effective against the particular type of cancer that developed in me As some might say it could have been worse David Armer September 6 2014 I have been taking aspirin now for more than 30 years I started after a friend of mine had a massive heart attack aged 40 in 1980 I have had no problems at all but I have always used soluble aspirin and always after food I had bypass surgery in 1995 but did not have a heart attack beforehand and if I suffered angina 2 aspirin always relieved it Not everyone can take aspirin my wife included but if you use it as I do you reduce the chance of stomach problems My sister took the coated ones but they caused problems in the small intestine Sue Gregory September 6 2014 Very interesting Has any work been done on the effects of aspirin substitutes I am taking Clopidogrel which my pharmacist tells me fulfills the role of aspirin but works in a different way K Cooke September 6 2014 I ve followed the Aspirin research closely for some time and because I lost my mum relatively young 55 yrs old to bowel cancer I ve been taking 75 mg aspirin daily for the last 3 yrs I m now 43 I consulted my GP first and she was happy for me to take them and I m also on regular colonoscopy screening I m a nurse and I will hopefully recognise side effects should the arise but so far I have had none I will definitely carry on taking aspirin Jean Myhill September 6 2014 my then GP recommended all his patients over 40 took 75mg of soluble aspirin and reduced eating ham or bacon in fact any preserved meats to once a week I have followed this advice for the last 30years with no ill effects D John September 5 2014 Hi Very interesting report I had a stroke 7 years ago when i was 50 I have been prescribed aspirin as part of my preventative medication To see aspirin fall into the risk catagory for causing strokes has caused made me wonder if this was the correct decision christine duke September 5 2014 very interesting news Liz Steel September 5 2014 A few years ago my brother was taking prescribed low dose aspirin Over a year or so he became very tired and weak He had been bleeding internally due to the aspirin and his haemoglobin was so low that he almost died None of us in the family take aspirin as a result I do think people should be made aware of this Liz Steel John Turner September 5 2014 Seems a fair and balanced analysis which is needed thank you I ve been taking 75mg daily for 4 years now since turning 70 Will continue Terence Chancellor September 5 2014 I had a heart attack in 1994 and began taking soluble aspring 250 reducing to 75mg I did not stop be having bowel cancer in 2009 which an operation cured and all has been well since Curious I still continue to take 75mg daily and have

    Original URL path: http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2014/08/06/aspirin-and-cancer-not-quite-but-nearly/comment-page-2/ (2016-02-11)
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  • Amanda Boughey | Cancer Research UK - Science blog
    subjects Near you Belfast Cardiff Edinburgh All locations By Researcher Professor Duncan Baird Professor Fran Balkwill Professor Andrew Biankin See all researchers More Our research history Our research strategy FUNDING FOR RESEARCHERS Our funding schemes Biomarker Project Awards Career Development Fellowship Grand Challenge award View all schemes and deadlines Applying for funding Start your application online Guide to filling in your application form How to make a successful application Funding committees Manage your research grant Manage your grant online Guide to managing a grant online Notify us of new publications Update your profile How we deliver research Our research strategy Our institutes Our centres Our research partnerships More Drug discovery and development Recently funded awards Researcher case studies ABOUT US What we do We beat cancer We fundraise We develop policy Our organisation Our strategy Our Trustees CEO and Executive Board Annual report and accounts Annual review Current jobs Graduates and interns Your development Benefits Cancer news Science blog Latest press releases Latest news reports Search all news More Contact Us Press office Publications HOME ABOUT CANCER SUPPORT US NEWS RESOURCES FUNDING RESEARCH ABOUT US You are here Home border 0 Support us Home About us Cancer news Science blog Author Amanda Boughey Author Amanda Boughey How can a marketing campaign improve lung cancer survival Category Science blog December 9 2013 Amanda Boughey Following reports that the Be Clear on Cancer campaign has made a striking impact on lung cancer detection we hear a personal take on this important news Read More Older Posts Newer Posts Popular posts Most read today Most discussed Don t believe the hype 10 persistent cancer myths debunked How does alcohol cause cancer Processed meat and cancer what you need to know How does alcohol cause cancer Headlines about e cigarettes don t mean they

    Original URL path: http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/author/amandaboughey/ (2016-02-11)
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  • Diagnosing cancer early – how far have we come? - Cancer Research UK - Science blog
    41 per cent to 50 per cent This is a great sign that the key messages of the campaign were reaching the target audience Thanks to the bowel cancer campaign significantly more people aged 75 and over recognised blood in their stools as a symptom compared to people aged 55 74 But there were no differences observed across age groups when acknowledging a persistent cough as a symptom of lung cancer Improvements in symptom awareness were seen in both men and women across multiple different occupations and social and ethnic groups Evidence like this is crucial for finding the best ways to tackle inequality The data for this study came from surveys carried out several months after the campaigns had ended So the findings also suggest that the campaigns triggered sustained symptom awareness which is really important But the responses to the surveys also showed no difference in how approachable people found their GP following the campaigns A similar number of people still viewed reporting these symptoms as a potential waste of the doctor s time or they had concerns that the GP would be difficult to talk to Clearly more work needs to be done to address this challenge But what about the number of people who actually visited their GP with these symptoms following the campaigns Should I see the GP Awareness is a vital first step but the potential impact of greater awareness can only be felt if people act on these symptoms Crucially this study also showed that following the campaigns substantially more people made a trip to their GP with these target symptoms GP visits jumped 29 per cent for bowel cancer symptoms and 63 per cent for lung Interestingly data for the bowel cancer campaign shows that the increase in GP visits was greater among men and for people from the most deprived group And for the lung cancer campaign it seems that people from more affluent areas accounted for more of the GP visits But GP practices in the poorest areas still saw the highest number of overall visits linked to the key symptom from the campaign a persistent cough These studies suggest that the Be Clear on Cancer approach is playing a key role in getting important messages about symptoms to the people most likely to be affected which is great news Finding the best ways to tweak this approach and ensuring these campaigns continue to boost awareness and help close these inequality gaps will require further research Setting the stage Inequalities also extend beyond first noticing symptoms and going to the GP Previous research has found that far too many people are being diagnosed as an emergency case especially older people This is important because cancers diagnosed via emergency routes are usually more advanced difficult to treat and far from ideal from the patient s perspective And two further papers from the supplement address inequalities related to how advanced a tumour is when diagnosed known as stage at diagnosis Why do

    Original URL path: http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2015/03/04/diagnosing-cancer-early-how-far-have-we-come/ (2016-02-11)
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  • The Cancer Patient Experience Survey – questions have been asked…now what? - Cancer Research UK - Science blog
    findings are translated into real differences for patients Improving One of the aims of the Survey is to provide information to drive local improvements and we re keen to see what this means in practice It s very helpful to know that there are some places which are doing really well and others which have improved Local variation might suggest that there s plenty of room for future improvement One thing which hasn t improved over the years is the proportion of patients having a discussion about research Research is essential to make improvements in cancer prevention screening diagnosis and treatments Today half of patients will survive their cancer for at least 10 years In the 1970s only a quarter of patients survived This progress has been driven by research and it s vital that research is supported in the NHS so more patients can benefit in the future We know that many cancer patients value the opportunity to take part in research So it s important that they re made aware of clinical trials that may be available and are given the necessary information to decide whether they want to be involved But this isn t happening nearly as much as it could Today we learnt that overall less than a third 31 per cent of patients said that they d discussed taking part in research since being diagnosed This level has been about the same in previous surveys and there are large variations around the country We d like to know why this hasn t improved and why there s variation Is research not discussed if there s no appropriate trial available for the patient Why are some NHS Trusts so much better than others and discuss research with almost two thirds 61 per cent of their patients A crucial factor that s been shown repeatedly is the importance of having access to a Clinical Nurse Specialist as this is closely linked to a better experience This shows the importance of allowing more nursing staff to have time to work holistically with a patient and how websites like our Patient Portal would make a difference with this How are people diagnosed in the first place The survey also asks a number of questions about how patients were diagnosed This is a really important issue as we know that being diagnosed early gives the vast majority of patients a much better chance of surviving cancer Almost half 46 per cent of patients are diagnosed at an advanced stage Seeing a GP will very often be the first step towards being diagnosed It s good to hear from the survey that 75 per cent of patients saw their GP no more than twice before being referred to hospital But worryingly nine per cent of patients are still seeing their GP five or more times before this happens It s important to note that this doesn t simply mean that all of those patients had symptoms that were ignored by their

    Original URL path: http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2014/09/25/the-cancer-patient-experience-survey-questions-have-been-askednow-what/ (2016-02-11)
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  • Saving lives and averting costs? The case for earlier diagnosis just got stronger - Cancer Research UK - Science blog
    savings in treatment costs of just under 210 million would be realised resulting in more than 52 000 people being diagnosed with earlier stage cancer This shows that health services should be able to plan early diagnosis programmes in the expectation that they will be able to unlock significant savings in treatment And they should do so in the expectation that they can achieve significant health gains for cancer patients We estimate that if everywhere could do as well as the best in England then more than 5 000 extra people each year would be alive five years after their cancer diagnosis The affordability opportunity There has of course been a good deal of debate in recent weeks about access to expensive radiotherapy and cancer drug treatments But this report is not an argument for ignoring efforts to improve treatment to instead focus on early diagnosis In fact it is the opposite setting out a way in which improvements to treatment can be afforded Earlier diagnosis will save lives and avert treatment costs These averted costs should instead be used to fund early diagnosis programmes and better treatments for those who need them As the population ages the challenge of cancer will grow Groundbreaking research is creating opportunities to rise to this challenge Earlier diagnosis offers the prospect of a step change in survival and the financial headroom to make available the fruits of research Now we must get on and deliver it Mike Birtwistle is founding partner at Incisive Health Image via Wikimedia Commons Share this article More on this topic Tags Cancer in the news Cancer Research UK funded research Diagnosing cancer Early detection Health service policy Policy Treatment Comments Click here to cancel reply IJSS McLellan October 20 2014 It s a terrible waste of life The Deceased s family rarely forgives the NHS wendy September 23 2014 I had blood tests done 24 12 2013 fast tracked 30 12 2013 test carried out Jan 2014 diagnosed with Smouldering Mulitiple Myeloma incurable cancer but can be managed on Feb 12 2014 At diagnosis I was told it was a little known cancer which was incurable but treatable with varying options unfortunately the treatment at the smouldering stage is worse than the illness all said as if they were doing me a favour and so I am classed as a watch and wait candidate living with the knowledge that at any one of my 2 monthly appointments I could be told I need the treatment living with the anxiety and stress of being on watch and wait is unbelievable the further you go down the line and the more ill you begin to feel the angrier you become with this condition you feel its more a case of oh well it is incurable why spend the money what about people with the cancer suffering the treatment side effects early after diagnosis in the hope of up to 7 years remission before having to start treatment again and at

    Original URL path: http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2014/09/22/saving-lives-and-averting-costs-the-case-for-earlier-diagnosis-just-got-stronger/ (2016-02-11)
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