On the pulse 28 November 2013

  • The Big Give
  • Christmas Tombola
  • Study gives further insight into how breast cancer cells migrate

The Big Give
Cancerkin is again participating in the Big Give Christmas Challenge, which gives supporters the opportunity to have the value of their donations to Cancerkin doubled. On the 5th, 6th and 7th of December, donations made online to Cancerkin via our Big Give page can be doubled. For every £1 donated, our generous supporters at the Padwa Charitable Foundation and the Big Give itself will contribute another £1. Our target is to raise £5,000 from donations, which means we stand to receive an incredible £10,000.

Every pound counts in this unique fundraising event so we do hope you are able to support us. Matched funds are limited, so please make a note to donate as close to 10am as possible via the Big Give website on any of the three days (5th, 6th and 7th December 2013) to make sure your generosity goes twice as far.

If you have any questions, or need help making your online donation, please contact Holly, either on h.lovering@cancerkin.org.uk or by calling 020 7830 2323. Thank you in advance for your generosity.

Christmas Tombola
December is nearly upon us (how time flies!), and so here is a final reminder that our annual Christmas Tombola will be taking place outside the Atrium of the Royal Free Hospital on Wednesday 4th December 2013, from 9.30am to 4pm. We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of local businesses and supporters, which include meals from restaurants such as Zara and the Hampstead Tea Rooms, a cut and blow dry from Enz and coffees and muffins from Costa.

As well as the Tombola, we are running a stall selling small items, perfect for stocking fillers. There will also be a selection of Christmas cards to buy, Cancerkin t-shirts and plenty of mince pies! And, if that’s not enough, there will also be a (very well stocked!) second-hand book stall.

It’s also not too late to donate a gift! If you have any new items or second hand books you no longer want, you have until Monday 2nd December to donate them. Please contact Holly on h.lovering@cancerkin.org.uk or call 020 7830 2323 and we will be happy to help. Alternatively, simply bring the items into the Cancerkin Centre; we are open from 9.00am to 5.30pm Monday to Friday.

We look forward to seeing you there for the start of the festive season!

Study gives further insight into how breast cancer cells migrate
Research published in Oncogene has given scientists more information on how breast cancer cells migrate.

Scientists based at the University of Birmingham and the University of Bristol changed the levels of a protein called PRH to discover how it is involved in the migration of breast and prostate cancer cells. They found that changing the levels of the PRH protein in cells changed their ability to migrate: when the level of PRH in the cell was reduced, the speed at which the cell could move increased.

PRH is a protein which switches genes on and off. The researchers found that PRH switches on the production of another protein, Endoglin, which was already known to control the migration of cells. Therefore, low levels of PRH in cancer cells leads to low levels of Endoglin and results in increased cell migration.

Katherine Woods, Research Information Manager at Breast Cancer Campaign, said: “This interesting work has brought us another step closer to understanding how breast cancer cells move and spread around the body, and closer to knowing how we could stop this spread to help women outlive the disease. This research is all the more valuable because it could have implications for other cancers such as prostate and thyroid cancer, and some leukaemias.”

For more information, please see Breast Cancer Campaign.

On the pulse 14 November 2013

Christmas at Cancerkin
Our annual Christmas tombola will be on Tuesday 4th December 2012, outside the Atrium in the Royal Free. We have already received some brilliant prizes from local businesses, including vouchers from Gourmet Burger Kingdom, a haircut from Enz Hair and Beauty and a book token from Daunt Books. However, we are still looking for more! If you have any new items (no matter how big or small) you would like to donate for the tombola, please contact Holly, either by emailing h.lovering@cancerkin.org,uk or by calling 020 7830 2323.

We will also be running a book stall alongside the tombola, so if you have any books, in good condition, you would like to donate, we would welcome them! You can either contact Holly or simply bring them into the centre when you visit.

We are also selling Christmas cards again. We have three festive designs, each of which we are selling, very reasonably, at £3 for a pack of 10. To see the selection, or to purchase cards, simply drop into the Cancerkin Centre anytime Monday-Friday, from 9am – 5.30pm, and we will be happy to help.

Scientists are developing a test to predict an individual’s risk of breast cancer
Researchers from the University of Cambridge are developing a test that will predict individual women’s risk of breast cancer over different time frames.

The test will examine genes and breast tissue through a blood or saliva test and an x-ray of a woman’s breasts, alongside information on their weight and lifestyle.  Designed to be offered to women in their 40s, those considered at the highest risk could be then given preventative drugs such as tamoxifen or even offered surgery to have their breasts removed. Women who were calculated to have a very low chance of developing breast cancer would need to go for screening only every ten years, sparing them discomfort and anxiety and saving the NHS money.

The test will cost £100 and results showing women’s chances of developing breast cancer over time will be available within two weeks. Scientists hope the test will be available within two years and available through the NHS in five. It is thought it could provide an alternative to the NHS screening programme.

Professor Doug Easton unveiled the test last week at the National Cancer Research Institute conference in Liverpool. He said: ‘There has been a lot of controversy over the screening programme; it reduces deaths from the disease but at some cost. It causes a lot of unnecessary treatment. This would be far more effective.’

Nell Barrie, of Cancer Research UK, said: “Testing for genetic changes that increase the risk of cancer can help us better understand each person’s chances of developing the disease.

“Professor Easton’s work is applying our ever-growing knowledge of genetics to improve care through tailored advice and screening.

“Research to personalise cancer care is a vital weapon in the fight against the disease.

“In the future, it will be possible to uncover even more information about a person’s risk of cancer and about the weaknesses of each individual tumour – the potential for research like this is huge.’

For more information, please see the Telegraph or the Mail Online.

Scientists have discovered a gene fragment that may provide a clearer prognosis for patients
Researchers from the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute and the Institute of Molecular Bioscience at the University of Queensland have found a genetic “switch” that could indicate whether a particular breast cancer is aggressive and likely to spread.

The teams identified a particular ribonucleic acid (RNA) molecule that goes missing in aggressive cancers. This means its absence in tests would be a clear marker that a tumour is likely to spread. This discovery may provide a clearer prognosis for breast cancer patients and pave the way for new treatments.

Dr Nicole Cloonan, from QIMR Berghofer, said: “”Essentially, this particular gene fragment, or microRNA, normally acts like an emergency brake in our genetic program, ensuring our cells continue to reproduce normally.”

“But we’ve identified that this ’emergency brake’ fails in invasive, aggressive tumours. Its sudden absence in cancer tests would be a clear marker that a tumour is likely to spread.

“And we know that primary breast cancer rarely kills; it is those aggressive tumours that spread, or metastasise, which result in poor outcomes.”

They have also found that the microRNA is missing in aggressive liver, stomach, brain and skin cancers, indicating this seems to be a common cellular process which could be a new target for drugs.

For more information, please see the Guardian Online.

On the pulse 7 November 2013

  • Breast Cancer Awareness at Newham Hospital
  • Inaugural lecture of Mohammed Keshtgar MBBS, BSc, FRCSI, FRCS(Gen), PhD
  • Study finds that poverty may account for 450 avoidable deaths from breast cancer each year
  • Study shows that more women under 40 are developing breast cancer

Breast Cancer Awareness at Newham Hospital
Last week, the East London team joined up with the Breast Care nurses at Newham Hospital to hold a ‘Pink Day’ for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The aim of the day was to increase awareness of breast cancer and breast health, as well as to raise money for breast cancer charities. The Cancerkin team set up a stall to distribute literature and information on breast cancer awareness, as well as explain our support work. To that end, we also had a massage therapist on hand offering sample Indian massage sessions to the public.

The stall was visited by over 100 people who were given packs on breast awareness and many others who dropped by just for information. With hospital staff decked out in pink and stalls full of pink goodies on sale, the day was a great success and we would like to thank Gill Constance and Sally Shanley for inviting us along.

Inaugural lecture of Mohammed Keshtgar MBBS, BSc, FRCSI, FRCS(Gen), PhD
Mr Mohammed Keshtgar, Professor of Cancer Surgery and Surgical Oncology at the Royal Free, is giving a lecture focusing on the recent advances and the contributions that UCL and Royal Free have made in breast cancer management in the past two decades.  This includes sentinel node biopsy, advanced imaging using PET technology, electrochemotherapy, keyhole mastectomy, use of nanotechnology and intraoperarative radiotherapy.

The talk is taking place in the Peter Samuels Hall in the Royal Free Hospital at 5.00pm on Friday 22nd November, and will be followed by a reception in the Williams Wells Atrium. For more information, or to book your place, please contact Chris Brew-Graves by emailing ctg.ctg@ucl.ac.uk or calling 020 7679 9280.

Study finds that poverty may account for 450 avoidable deaths from breast cancer each year
Research presented at the National Cancer Research Institute conference has indicated that social deprivation may be responsible for up to 450 avoidable deaths from breast cancer each year.

Researchers from the universities of Cambridge and Leicester analysed the treatment history of over 20,000 women from the east of England who were diagnosed with breast cancer between 2006 and 2010. They found that women from lower income groups were more likely to be diagnosed later, when cancers were more advanced and therefore more difficult to treat. The research indicated that if all groups of women had their cancers diagnosed at the same stage as the most affluent women, 40 lives could be saved in the east of England each year, equivalent to approximately 450 lives nationwide.

Dr Gary Abel, statistician at the University of Cambridge and study author, said:  “These avoidable deaths are not due to differences in the response to treatment, or the type of breast cancer. Rather these are deaths that might be avoided if cancer was caught as early in women from deprived backgrounds as those from more affluent backgrounds.

“The reason for this inequality may be a combination of these women being less aware of breast cancer symptoms and a greater reluctance to see their GP.”

Dr Julie Sharp, head of health information at Cancer Research UK, said: “Other research shows that women from deprived backgrounds are more likely to feel embarrassed or worried about going to their GP – but it’s important for women to take that step as going to the GP promptly could make all the difference.

“All women should be aware of how their breasts normally look and feel because we know that early diagnosis is one of the most important factors in whether breast cancer treatment is effective.”

For more information, please see the Independent or BBC Online.

Study shows that more women under 40 are developing breast cancer
A study published in Cancer Epidemiology has indicated that cases of breast cancer in women under 40 are rising across Europe.

Researchers in France and Italy studied trends in breast cancer in women under 40 in seven European countries (Belgium, Bulgaria, France, and Italy, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland). The research found that on average, the number of of breast cancer cases in women under 40 rose by about one percent per year between 1990 and 2008. The greatest rise was found in women under the age of 35. However, it was not clear whether this increase was due to improving methods of diagnosis or a rise in risk factors. Cancer in young women is rare – only about 5% of all breast cancers are in women under the age of 40.

Jessica Kirby, health information manager at Cancer Research UK, said: “It’s worrying to see a rise in breast cancer rates in younger women in Europe, but this study didn’t include the UK.

“Rises in breast cancer rates could be caused by a range of things that can increase the risk of breast cancer, such as women having fewer children and having them later in life, or greater awareness and diagnosis in this group.

“Women can reduce the risk of breast cancer by keeping active and cutting down on alcohol. Also get to know your breasts and, if you notice any change, tell your doctor without delay.”

For more information, please see BBC Online.