On the pulse – 27th January 2012

Cancerkin’s News Update…..

Cancerkin Volunteers

Cancerkin would like to thank all those who have been helping out this week. Your support is invaluable to us and we very much appreciate you giving up your time. We will continue to need help over the next few weeks folding letter and stuffing envelopes. If you have some spare time and would like to help out, please do get in touch. As ever, lots of tea and biscuits will be provided. Please contact Laura on l.smith@cancerkin.org.uk.

Item for sale – Gold Plated Cutlery Canteen

We have received a generous donation of a 44 piece Viner’s gold plated cutlery canteen to sell as part of our fundraising efforts. The canteen is brand new and still in its wrapping. The item is for sale at £150 or nearest offer. Funds raised through the sale of the item will contribute to our programme of support for young women with breast cancer, which provides groups, talks and activities tailored specifically to patients under 45.

To view pictures of the canteen, please visit our website here. If you or someone you know would be interested in the item, please contact Laura on 0207 830 2323 or l.smith@cancerkin.org.uk.

 

In the News…..

Breast screening debate continues

The ongoing debate about the pros and cons of breast screening has once again been brought to the forefront by a controversial book which claims screening is not justified. The book’s author Peter Gøtzsche, director of the independent Nordic Cochrane Collaboration, claims that the harm done to women by breast cancer screening through unnecessary diagnosis and over treatment outweighs the small number of lives saved by programmes such as the NHS’s in the UK.

Mr Gøtzsche has spent over 10 years investigating and analysing data from the trials of breast screening that were run before countries such as the UK introduced their national programmes. He maintains that the results do not support mass screening as a preventive measure and claims screening saves one life for every 2,000 women who go for a mammogram but that it harms 10 others though over diagnosis and treatment for cancerous cells that would not have progressed or would have gone away on their own.

In the UK, women aged between 50 and 70 are invited by the NHS to have a mammogram every three years. Debate over the NHS’s programme began in July 2011, when research published by the Nordic Cochrane Collaboration suggested that there was no difference in breast cancer death rates between countries who had and who did not have national screening programmes. The NHS has consistently disputed these claims. Professor Julietta Patnick, director of the NHS cancer screening programmes, said in 2011: “We can’t comment on screening programmes in other countries but here in England we do know that the best evidence available shows that women aged 50-69 who are regularly screened are less likely to die from breast cancer” She cited World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that show screening reduces mortality by 35%. The controversy led UK cancer tsar Professor Sir Mike Richards to call for an independent review of the data in October. Now underway, the review’s findings will inform future decisions on screening in the UK.

To read more on this topic, you can click here.

Statins and breast cancer risk 

A new study at Columbia University in the US has found that statins, a group of drugs widely used to reduce the risk of heart disease, could possibly be used in the future to treat women with breast cancer carrying a particular gene mutation. Writing in the journal Cell, the study authors say the research is at a much too early stage to give definitive conclusions but that the results show potential and warrant further investigation through clinical trials.

The study focussed on the gene P53, which usually works to suppress cancer cells. When the gene mutates, its function changes and it begins to promote cancer growth. The faulty p53 gene is found in more than half of all cancers. Laboratory studies at Colombia University treated breast cancer cells containing the mutation with statins and found that the growth of cells was slowed or that the cells died.

Carol Prives, professor of biology at Columbia University, said of the results: “The data raises the possibility that we might identify subsets of patients whose tumors may respond to statins. Of course we can’t make any definitive conclusions until we know more. There are great implications, but nothing clinical yet.” Dr Caitlin Palframan from Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said: “We’re excited that existing drugs, like statins, are showing potential in the fight against breast cancer.”

To read more about the study, please click here. If you are interested in finding out a separate study published in 2011, which examined the potential of statins to lower the risk of breast cancer recurrence in women who had already had the disease, please click here.

Laura Smith

Item for sale – Gold Plated Cutlery Canteen

We have received a generous donation of a 44 piece Viner’s gold plated cutlery canteen to sell as part of our fundraising efforts. The canteen is brand new and still in its wrapping. The item is for sale at £150 or nearest offer. Funds raised through the sale of the item will contribute to our programme of support for young women with breast cancer, which provides groups, talks and activities tailored specifically to patients under 45.

If you or someone you know would be interested in the item,
please contact Laura on 0207 830 2323 or l.smith@cancerkin.org.uk.

Please note this set has now been sold. The Cancerkin Team, 12 July 2012

On the pulse – 20th January 2012

Cancerkin’s News Update…..

Cancerkin annual lecture: ‘The Elephant in the Room’

Cancerkin’s annual lecture will be given this year by Professor Jonathan Waxman, MD FRCP Professor of Oncology and Consultant Physician at Imperial College London, in the Atrium at the Royal Free Hospital on Tuesday 27 March 2012. The lecture is being held this year in celebration of our 25th anniversary.Professor Waxman is a clinician who has helped develop new treatments for cancer that are now part of standard practice. He is the founder and Life President of The Prostate Cancer Charity, and has published a huge number of research papers, chapters and books on cancer, as well as a novel and a law book. He is also a prominent campaigner and fundraiser for work into cancer research and care.

His lecture will be based around his new book ‘The Elephant in the Room’, a collection of stories about cancer patients and their doctors, which provides an insight into how cancer is cared for. The lecture will begin at 6.30pm. If you would like to attend, please contact Laura on l.smith@cancerkin.org.uk.

Volunteering opportunities

We are still recruiting volunteers to help over the next few weeks with envelope stuffing for our upcoming events. If you have some spare time and would like to help out, please do get in touch. As ever, lots of tea and biscuits will be provided. Please contact Laura onl.smith@cancerkin.org.uk.

Welcome to new art therapist

This month we welcome Catarina Vasconcelos, an Art Psychotherapy trainee at the University of Roehampton, to the Cancerkin team. Catarina will be holding individual and group sessions of Art Therapy, which aim to effect change and growth on a personal level through the use of art materials in a safe and facilitating environment. She has a Masters in Clinical Psychology and has worked as a psychologist in private practice with adults and facilitated group workshops focused on creative expression with children.

The group session will take place on Wednesdays from 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm, and individual Sessions will be on Thursdays from 11:30 am to 12:30pm and 3:30pm to 4:30pm. You do not need to have previous experience or skill in art. If you are interested in taking part, please contact Una on u.reynolds@cancerkin.org.uk.

In the News…..

HRT and breast cancer risk

A story has appeared in the press this week questioning the link between hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and breast cancer risk. Researchers at the University of Cape Town, South Africa and at UK universities including University of Surrey and Imperial College London have reanalysed three major studies conducted over the past two decades that claimed HRT increased the risk of developing breast cancer. The original research suggested that women who took HRT were twice as likely to get breast cancer and were more likely to die, causing a huge loss of confidence in the treatment and the number of users to fall by half. New analysis of the research suggests that the studies do not in fact prove that HRT causes breast cancer.

There are three studies in question: the 1997 Collaborative Reanalysis, which pooled data of 51 studies examining HRT and breast cancer risk; the 2002 Women’s Health Initiative, two randomised controlled trials in which women were assigned either HRT treatment or a placebo; and the 2003 Million Women Study, a prospective cohort study which followed over a million UK women over the age of 50 from the point when they were invited for breast screening between 1996 and 2001. Each study concluded that HRT increased breast cancer risk.

Researchers lead by Professor Samuel Shapiro of the University of Cape Town Medical School, have since examined whether each study meets a list of nine criteria required to demonstrate causality i.e. that HRT causes breast cancer. These include factors such as time order (whether women developed breast cancer after they had HRT), information bias (whether anxiety about the possibility HRT could cause breast cancer could influence women’s responses) and confounding (whether those who took HRT were affected by any other factors influencing breast cancer risk). They found that all three failed to adequately fulfil the majority of the causality criteria. From this, they concluded that HRT may or may not increase the risk of breast cancer but that none of the three studies is able to establish that it does. Further studies are required to determine this.

Cancer Research UK, who helped fund the Million Women Study, has defended the original findings of the study, stating that numerous analyses of the results have concluded that HRT does cause breast cancer and that around 20 further independent studies have also reached the same verdict. It also highlighted that the authors of this latest critique all act or have acted as consultants for pharmaceutical companies that make HRT.

To read more about the story, please click here or here.

Laura Smith