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Our 5 biggest cancer research stories from 2018

Courtesy of Gabriella Beer December 17, 2018

It’s been another busy year in cancer research. From taking important steps towards tackling the most aggressive cancers to making treatments kinder for children, these are our 5 biggest research stories from 2018.

1. A spotlight on brain tumours

Brain tumours have been hard to treat for too long, with only 1 in 7 people surviving their disease for a decade or longer. That’s why we set out to change these odds and launched our Brain Tumour Awards this year, an £18 million commitment to take on some of the greatest challenges in brain tumour research that are holding back progress. You can read about the teams who’ve been shortlisted for the awards on our website.

The 6 areas we need to work on to revolutionise treatment for brain tumours:

One of the problems with treatment for brain tumours is that it’s hard to develop drugs that reach the brain. And when they do, these drugs can cause side effects. This year, we visited our scientists in Edinburgh who are trying to find out if implanting special metal beads into the area where a tumour is removed during surgery could switch on a chemo drug to kill the tumour cells that are often left behind.

To learn how our Edinburgh scientists are tackling brain tumours, watch this video.

2. Reducing treatment side effects for children’s cancer

Cancer treatment can come with side effects. And when you’re a child that has a lot more growing to do, they can sometimes be life-changing. We’re aiming to make better and kinder treatments for children and young people with cancer. And the results of our SIOPEL 6 trial, announced this year, are certainly a step in the right direction. The video below explains how a drug we tested in the trial reduces hearing loss in young people who’ve been treated with chemotherapy for a certain type of liver cancer.

We also opened the Cancer Research UK Children’s Brain Tumour Centre of Excellence. This £3 million investment aims to accelerate progress in developing treatments for children and young people with brain tumours. Read this post for the details.

Tackling online misinformation

Cancer is never far from the headlines, but they don’t always tell the full story. This year we also set the record straight on worries that mobile phones cause brain tumours, looked at why claims that vaping causes cancer are wildly misleading and explained why research behind ‘simple blood test’ headlines is usually far fromsimple. If you’re keen to find out how to spot potential misinformation about cancer yourself, here are our 6 tips.

3. One-off prostate cancer blood test doesn’t save lives

There’s no UK screening programme for prostate cancer because the blood test that would be used, called the PSA (or prostate specific antigen) test, isn’t reliable enough. Our research, published this year, confirmed that the test doesn’t save lives when given to men without symptoms of prostate cancer as a one-off check. This post explains what the PSA test is and the latest research, with experts saying that future research can now focus on finding new ways to detect and treat the most aggressive prostate cancers early.

4. Causes of cancer updated

A landmark Cancer Research UK study, published in March, looked at the things in our lives that cause cancer and calculated how many cases in the UK are linked to each of these risk factors. It found that more than 135,000 cases of cancer could be prevented through changes such as stopping smoking, keeping a healthy weight and eating a healthy diet. This blog post has the details.

5. New insights into kidney cancer

Scientists at the Francis Crick Institute, funded by Cancer Research UK, showed that looking into a disease’s past could predict its future. They published a trio of scientific papers detailing how kidney cancers change as they develop and grow over time, singling out the ‘killers’ from the cancers that are less aggressive. This research will play a vital role in making kidney cancer treatment more personal. Our blog post explains all.

It’s your generous donations that make progress like this happen. Thank you so much for your support in 2018, we wish you all the best for the New Year.

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