NHS England action to save lives by catching more cancers early

NHS England announces the scaling up of an innovative scheme that catches lung cancer early by scanning patients, along with new details of a more sensitive bowel cancer test that could save thousands of lives.

NHS England is now funding scanners in other areas as part of a national programme to diagnose cancer earlier, improve the care for those living with cancer and ensure each cancer patient gets the right care for them. This follows the success of the Manchester scanner scheme, where mobile scanners are detecting four out of five cases of lung cancer in the early stages when it is easier to treat. The mobile scanning trucks have picked up one cancer for every 33 patients scanned over the course of a year.

Plans for ‘FIT’, a more sensitive bowel cancer test that could see as many as 1,500 more cancer caught earlier every year have also been confirmed.

‘FIT’ is an easy to use home testing kit which predicts bowel cancer, following the introduction of the test almost a third of a million more people are expected to complete screening. The sensitivity level determines the number of people who should go on for further cancer testing.

 

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New quality of life measure for recovering cancer patients

New ‘quality of life metric’, will use questionnaires to measure how well cancer patients are supported after treatment. | NHS England

NHS England are introducing a new approach to drive improvements in after care which includes personalised plans for people with cancer outlining not only their physical needs, but also other support they may need, such as help at home or financial advice.

The latest national survey shows the vast majority of people with cancer are positive about the NHS care they receive, but there is currently no measure to assess how well patients are supported after treatment.

The new ‘quality of life metric’, which is the first of its kind, will use questionnaires to measure how effective this support is and the data will be made available on My NHS – helping patients, the public, clinicians and health service providers see how well their local after cancer care support is doing.

Full story at NHS England

Identifying critical steps towards improved access to innovation in cancer care

Investment in innovation must be balanced with the need to ensure the sustainability of healthcare budgets, and all health professionals have a responsibility to help achieve this balance | European Journal of Cancer

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Highlights:

  • Innovation in cancer care does not have to be complex or expensive.
  • An innovation’s value depends on patient outcomes, quality of life and system costs.
  • A whole-system, whole-patient approach is required to guide investment in innovation.
  • Patients must be more involved in defining and assessing the value of innovation.
  • Investment in real-world data is essential to shape decisions about interventions.

Full reference: Aapro, M. et al. (2017) Identifying critical steps towards improved access to innovation in cancer care: a European CanCer Organisation position paper. European Journal of Cancer. Volume 82 – pp. 193–202

How big data is being mobilised in the fight against leukaemia

In a project funded by Bloodwise and the Scottish Cancer Foundation, we have created LEUKomics. This online data portal brings together a wealth of CML gene expression data from specialised laboratories across the globe | Lorna Jackson & Lisa Hopcroft for The Conversation

Leucemia mieloide cronica (LMC)

Image source: Paulo Henrique Orlandi Mourao – Wikimedia // CC BY-SA 3.0

Our intention is to eliminate the bottleneck surrounding big data analysis in CML. Each dataset is subjected to manual quality checks, and all the necessary computational processing to extract information on gene expression. This enables immediate access to and interpretation of data that previously would not have been easily accessible to academics or clinicians without training in specialised computational approaches.

Consolidating these data into a single resource also allows large-scale, computationally-intensive research efforts by bioinformaticians (specialists in the analysis of big data in biology). From a computational perspective, the fact that CML is caused by a single mutation makes it an attractive disease model for cancer stem cells. However, existing datasets tend to have small sample numbers, which can limit their potential.

Read the full blog post here

7 innovative bits of research tech our Cancer Research U are developing

Today is Innovation Day, so CRUK are taking a look at some of the cutting edge technologies that their researchers are using in their efforts to understand and treat cancer | CRUK

  • iKnife: an ‘intelligent knife’ to spot cancerous tissue during surgery
  • Blood tests to monitor and personalise treatment

  • Nanobubbles to re-oxygenate tumours
  • Gold nanoparticles
  • Infra-red endoscopes to detect cancer earlier
  • Gene editing to boost immunotherapies
  • New imaging technologies

Read the full blog post here

Big data advances breast cancer research by ‘decades’

Big data has brought forward breast cancer research forward by ‘decades’, experts say.

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Scientists have created a ‘map’ linking the shape of breast cancer cells to genes turned on and off, and matched it to real disease outcomes, which could one day help doctors select treatments, according to a study  published in Genome Research.

Cancer Research UK-funded scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, used large sets of data to map out a network of links between cell shape and genes.

By analysing cell shape in millions of images of more than 300,000 breast cancer cells, and data for more than 28,000 different genes, researchers found that cell shape changes, which can be caused by physical pressures on the tumour, are converted into changes in gene activity.

When they then used their maps to analyse thousands of samples taken from women who took part in the Cancer Research UK funded METABRIC study, the researchers discovered that these changes are linked to clinical outcomes for patients.

Read more at OnMedica

Full reference: Heba Z. Sailem & Chris Bakal Identification of clinically predictive metagenes that encode components of a network coupling cell shape to transcription by image-omics
Genome Research. 2017. 27: 196-207

Let’s talk about cancer: the Manchester project that aims to save lives

Cancer deaths in Greater Manchester are 10% higher than the UK average. A new volunteer scheme wants to change this | The Guardian

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The idea, led by Greater Manchester Cancer Vanguard Innovation, (part of Greater Manchester Cancer – the cancer programme of Greater Manchester’s devolved health and social care partnership), is to use people power to create a cultural shift in one of the UK’s cancer hot spots, and make it normal to talk about screening, healthier lifestyle options and catching symptoms early.

Working with the voluntary sector, the aim is to sign up 5,000 cancer champions by autumn 2017, and to reach 20,000 by 2019. Mobilising this cancer army is one of a series of measures to cut premature cancer deaths in the area by 1,300 by 2021.

Read the full news story here