News digest – heart health risks, immunotherapy trials, prostate cancer urine test and living with cancer
Immunotherapy could benefit some people with advanced prostate cancer
BBC News covers the results of a trial testing an immunotherapy drug for some men with prostate cancer that’s spread to other parts of the body and become resistant to treatment. The study involved 258 men and found that around 1 in 20 responded to pembrolizumab, with some seeing their tumours shrink or disappear completely. Experts say the next step is to identify who could benefit the most from the treatment in a larger clinical trial.
Immunotherapy drug shows promise in head and neck cancer
The same immunotherapy drug has also had promising results in trial for head and neck cancer. Around 1 in 4 patients responded positively to pembrolizumab, with their cancer either not growing or shrinking for an average of 23 months. More on this at BBC News.
Urine test to monitor prostate cancer in development
Researchers are developing a new prostate cancer test that could use urine samples collected at home to monitor some men with prostate cancer. The test aims to pick up on how aggressive the disease is, helping doctors to determine if and when treatment will be needed. But despite some bold headlines, experts were quick to point out the test was fairly early on in it’s development – so far researchers have only studied 14 people.
Living near heavy traffic may increase risk of lung cancer
Scientists from Kings College London have linked a number of health conditions, including lung cancer, to living in areas with high levels of air pollution. According to the study, living within 50 metres of a busy road may increase the risk of lung cancer by 10%. The Guardian has the full story.
Cancer survivors at higher risk of heart problems
A new study found that 1 in 10 cancer patients die from heart related problems, rather than their original illness. Heart complications can be related to treatments such as radiotherapy to the chest and some chemotherapy drugs. But experts also pointed out that some of the cancers studied shared risk factors like obesity and smoking, which could also help explain the increased risk. BBC News reports the research in full.
NHS under pressure as hospital beds in England at record low
The number of hospital beds has fallen to its lowest ever level, reports The Guardian. A total of 17,230 beds have been cut since the last UK elections in April 2010. NHS England has said that bed cuts are leaving hospitals unable to cope.
Number of people living with cancer has increased
New estimates by the cancer charity Macmillan suggest the number of people living with cancer has climbed by 20% in the last 5 years. According to the stats, featured in the Mail Online, there are now nearly 3 million people living with cancer in the UK.
The Telegraph reports on a suggested link between brain damage and obesity in teenagers. The small study was carried out by scientists at Sao Paulo University in Brazil and looked at MRI scans of 12 to 16 year-olds. Presenting their findings at a conference, they showed that children who were obese had changes in the areas of the brain related to emotional control and feelings of reward. But it wasn’t clear if the changes caused people to become obese or were a result of being obese. More research is needed with larger groups of people to establish if there really is a link.
Scarlett Sangster is a writer for PA Media Group