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Cancer Research calls for better prostate cancer tests

Better tests to define how aggressive a prostate cancer is needed, Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute said, after it was reported that more than half of a group of men whose cancers were initially classified as slow-growing and confined turned out to have more dangerous tumours.

Urological surgeon Greg Shaw said:

This highlights the urgent need for better tests to define how aggressive a prostate cancer is from the outset, building on diagnostic tests like MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans, and new biopsy techniques which help to more accurately define the extent of the prostate cancer.

This would then enable us to counsel patients with more certainty whether the prostate cancer identified is suitable for active surveillance or not.

Whilst active surveillance would seem to be a safe approach for some men, nearly a third will end up needing surgery or radiotherapy within five years.

Read: Men with prostate cancer 'given false hope' by tests

Men with prostate cancer 'given false hope' by tests

Men with prostate cancer are being given false hope by tests that underestimate the aggressiveness of their disease, a study suggests.

Researchers found that more than half of a group of men whose cancers were initially classified as slow-growing and confined turned out to have more dangerous tumours.

Men with prostate cancer 'given false hope', new study suggests. Credit: PA

The findings, published in the British Journal Of Cancer, call into question the ability of experts to grade and stage prostate cancers on the basis of biopsy samples.

It also casts doubt on the "active surveillance" strategy of avoiding unnecessary radical treatment for patients with slow-growing prostate cancer.

Instead, these patients are often closely monitored but left alone until tests suggest their condition has worsened.

Read: 'Genetic signature' breakthrough in prostate cancer tests

Wales waiting time statistics 'most disturbing in years'

NHS statistics which show that Wales has the worst waiting times for life-saving tests in the UK are "the most disturbing" health figures seen "in many years", a doctor said.

Carmarthen-based doctor Dewi Evans, who has been working in the health service since 1971, said early diagnostic tests were important because they could be a matter of life and death.

Read: Wales has worst waiting times for NHS tests in UK

The checks - such as MRI scans and cystoscopies - can be used by medics to check whether a person has cancer.

These investigations are the mainstay of early and accurate diagnoses of life-threatening conditions.

In terms of significance, these are the most disturbing NHS statistics I have seen in many years. Diagnostic tests are one of the most important parts of the health service.

– Dr Dewi Evans

How scientists found a new test for prostate cancer

In order to develop a new DNA test that can identify men at high risk of recurring prostate cancer, scientists analysed biopsy tissue samples taken from 126 treated men with the disease who were thought to be at intermediate risk of their cancer returning.

  • Researchers then looked at each patient's whole genetic code, searching for missing, extra, or irregular sections of DNA so they could identify signature patterns linked to a high or low risk of recurring cancer
  • The test was used to predict outcomes for a second group of 150 patients who had their prostate tumours removed by surgery.
  • A secondary study found that tumours affected by hypoxia - starved of oxygen - were most associated with worse survival
  • Men with low levels of genetic changes and low hypoxia had the best outcomes, with 93% lasting five years without their cancer recurring
  • Only 49% of men with high levels of genetic alterations and high hypoxia escaped a cancer recurrence for five years.

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New DNA test identifies prostate cancer risk

A new DNA test can identify men at high risk of recurring prostate cancer with almost 80% accuracy, say scientists.

A new biopsy test can identify men at high risk of recurring prostate cancer with almost 80% accuracy, say scientists. Credit: PA

The biopsy test singles out patients likely to relapse after surgery or radiotherapy by looking for specific genetic changes at 100 sites in DNA.

Researchers from the University of Toronto, Canada, believe the "genetic signature" test will help doctors determine which patients need extra help after initial treatment.

Professor Robert Bristow, lead scientist, said: "Existing methods for identifying high risk patients are imperfect, so new tests are required that are better at predicting which patients will have their cancer recur.

"These men can then be offered additional treatments, such as chemo and hormone therapy, that will combat the prostate cancer throughout their entire body, rather than therapies solely focused on the prostate, in order to improve their chances of survival.

"This is the first report of a test using information derived from biopsy samples that can predict with close to 80% accuracy which men are at high or low risk of their prostate cancer recurring."

Research: Seven fruit or veg a day more effective

Five pieces of fruit and veg may not be enough to ward off serious health problems, with seven having more of a protective effect, experts have warned.

Fruit and veg
Canned and frozen fruit increase the chance of death, the report found. Credit: PA

Despite NHS and World Health Organisation recommendations that everyone consumer five different 80kg pieces of fruit or veg every day to ward off conditions like heart disease and cancer, scientists found this was no longer enough.

Researchers from the University College London found people who ate seven pieces of fruit or veg every day cut their overall risk of death by 42%, when compared to someone who managed only one.

The study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, showed that fresh vegetables had the strongest protective effect, followed by salad and then fruit.

Those who had seven helpings reduced their risk of dying of cancer by 35% and risk of heart disease by 31%.

Five-a-day 'not healthy enough'

File photo dated of a bowl of fruit on a table. Credit: Chris Young/PA Wire

Five helpings of fruit and vegetables a day may not be enough, new research suggests.

Seven portions every day could have a more protective effect, experts said.

The NHS recommends that every person has five different 80g portions of fruit and vegetables a day. The suggested intake, based on World Health Organisation guidance, can lower the risk of serious health problems such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and obesity, according to NHS Choices.

But a new study suggests that eating seven or more helpings of fruit and veg a day can reduce a person's risk of dying of cancer by 25%.

Eating this many portions can also reduce a person's risk of dying of heart disease by 31%, the authors said.

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