News digest – breast screening AI, NHS waiting times, brain tumour scans and ‘prehab’
Artificial intelligence could make breast screening smarter
An algorithm developed by researchers from Google Health and Imperial College London is just as good as a radiologist at spotting breast cancer in screening images. BBC News covered the new software, which was trained using screening images collected by Cancer Research UK. Learn more about the research on our blog.
— Cancer Research UK (@CR_UK) January 1, 2020
‘Stop smoking’ resolution scrapped by Public Health England
Public Health England have axed their ‘stop smoking’ new year’s resolution drive in favour of a year-round campaign based on apps, emails and Facebook. But charities have criticised the move, which came after Public Health England’s anti-smoking budget was cut by £1.2 million. Get the full story at The Telegraph.
National campaigns, which encourage people to stop smoking, have been axed,despite evidence showing they’re effective. These cuts undermine the Govt’s aim to make England smokefree by 2030. We support @lunguk in calling on Govt to reinstate funding for these important campaigns. https://t.co/q99jp4Myi4
— CRUK Policy (@CRUK_Policy) December 27, 2019
‘Prehab’ fitness programme could cut recovery time
A new pre-treatment fitness programme could help reduce the side effects of chemotherapy and cut the amount of time patients need to spend in hospital. More than 500 people in Greater Manchester area have taken part in the programme so far, which includes 3 fitness sessions a week. Read more in The Guardian.
Smoking ban named top public health achievement
The ban on smoking in public spaces has topped surveys as the greatest public health achievement of the 21st century – credited with a 20% fall in heart attacks and other cardiac conditions in the 10 years since it was passed in 2007. The sugar tax on soft drinks came in second. Read more at The Guardian.
Hospitals will ‘struggle’ to meet wait time target for cancer patients
NHS England have made plans to bring in a new waiting time target for cancer diagnosis, despite continued staff shortages. Targets will require 70-85% of referred patients to be told if they have cancer or not within 4 weeks of being referred for tests. But experts from the Royal College of Radiologists warn the targets will be unachievable for many hospitals, as The Independent explains.
Modelling study suggests targeted screening could prevent ‘1 in 6 prostate cancer deaths’
According to UK researchers, screening men with a higher genetic risk of prostate cancer every 4 years could prevent 1 in 6 deaths. Previous studies have found the test, which measures the amount of prostate specific antigen (PSA) in the blood, isn’t reliable enough to screen for prostate cancer in the general population. But the researchers concluded that the benefits of a targeted screening programme could help to negate some of the known harms of prostate screening. This theory would now need to be put to the test in a real-life trial. More on this at Nursing Times.
A decade of breakthrough cancer therapies
Mail Online has compiled a list of some of the top medical breakthroughs of the decade. On the list – immunotherapy for cancer, a targeted ovarian cancer drug and a highly targeted radiotherapy treatment called SABR.
Amazon ‘cancer cure’ books provide false information
Cancer experts have criticised Amazon for selling books promoting fake cancer cures. Mail Online reports that more than 3,000 titles were listed, wrongly advising cancer patients to drink carrot juice or adopt an alkaline diet to help cure their disease. Experts recommend that anyone considering an unconventional treatment speak to their doctor first, as many ‘natural’ remedies could cause more harm than good.
E-cigarettes have given stop smoking efforts a boost
Writing for The Guardian, Professor Linda Bauld and Dr Suzi Gage look back at one the most controversial years for e-cigarettes since they were first introduced. But despite ongoing controversy, they say that e-cigarettes are ‘still safer than smoking’.
Children with brain tumours could be spared aggressive treatments thanks to a new scan that’s able to predict the speed of tumour growth. The test will help treatment to each child’s brain tumour and aims to reduce the side-effects of treatment and improve children’s quality of life. The Guardian has the story.
Scarlett Sangster is a writer for PA Media Group.