On the pulse 28 August 2014

  • Cancerkin’s first Hampstead Heath Walk
  • Study finds that new programme is far more effective at treating depression in cancer patients than current care

Cancerkin’s first Hampstead Heath Walk
We have been very busy over the past couple of months processing all the sponsorship money and donations you have brought in, and we are delighted to announce that the Hampstead Heath Walk has made over £41,000! This is a fantastic amount – over £3,000 more than at this point last year – and money is still coming in. Everyone here is therefore very proud of all our walkers, supporters and volunteers who made the day such a memorable occasion and raised so much for Cancerkin in the process! A big thank you to all.

We would also like to thank our sponsors: Ocean Spray and the Finchley Road Sainsbury’s who kindly donated refreshments to keep you hydrated throughout the walk; and Floris who have generously donated prizes for the top three fundraisers. Without their support, we could not have made the day such a success.

Finally, a special thank you and congratulations must go to our top three fundraisers (drumroll please!). This year, our prize winners are Philippa Drew, Brenda Freedman and John Cunningham, who raised £3,598, £3,152 and £1,426 respectively. This really is an amazing achievement, and I am happy to say that they have each won a hamper of luxury Floris products.

Many thanks and congratulations again to all our walkers and supporters. We look forward to seeing everyone next year – and hope to announce the day soon, so keep an eye on On the pulse!

Study finds that new programme is far more effective at treating depression in cancer patients than current care
A study published in The Lancet has found that 75% of cancer patients who also have clinical depression do not get any psychological treatment.

The researchers, from Oxford and Edinburgh Universities, analysed data on 21,000 cancer patients. They found that clinical depression was much more prevalent in cancer patients: between 6% and 13% of the patients studied had clinical depression, compared with just 2% of the general population. They also found that 75% of cancer patients who reported symptoms of depression did not receive any treatment for the mental illness, which was partially attributed to patients not seeking help and professionals not diagnosing the condition. However, even when patients were diagnosed and given standard NHS treatment, the majority did not improve.

The researchers therefore carried out a trial of a new medical programme – Depression Care for People with Cancer (DCPC) – which was found to be more effective at tackling clinical depression in cancer patients than existing treatment. Currently, mental health care is separate from a patient’s physical care and involves prescription of antidepressants, with little follow-up or referral to mental health services. In contrast, DCPC was integrated with a patient’s cancer care and delivered by trained cancer nurses, who were supervised by psychiatrists. It involved both antidepressant drugs and psychological treatment and included careful monitoring. Five hundred patients with a good cancer prognosis took part in this trial, with 62% experiencing a 50% reduction in the severity of their depression. This compared to 17% of patients who received the usual care.

The study’s lead author Michael Sharpe, from Oxford University, said: “Major depression is really quite common in people with cancer and the perhaps surprising finding is that most of it goes untreated. The outcome with usual care is poor.

“We’ve described a new approach to managing depressed cancer patients that is based on the shortcomings of usual care, and integrated with cancer care, that really has quite spectacular effects in the good-prognosis patients and also has efficacy in the poor-prognosis patients.”

The cost of DCPC is approximately £600 per patient, and the researchers believe that if it was rolled out widely it could improve the quality of life for thousands of people.

Jacqui Graves, Clinical Programme Manager at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “It is heart-breaking to think cancer patients who are already dealing with the toughest fight of their lives are also struggling with depression, without adequate support.

“Anyone experiencing depression should get in touch with their GP.”

For more information, please see The Guardian or BBC News Online.

On the pulse 21 August 2014

  • Seminar at the Hampstead Theatre: Monday 6th October 2014
  • Want to learn exactly how to use your camera?
  • NICE rejects new breast cancer treatment drug for routine use on the NHS as it is too expensive

Seminar at the Hampstead Theatre: Monday 6th October 2014
Cancerkin’s theatre evening in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month will take place at the Hampstead Theatre on Monday 6th October 2014. Written by Pulitzer Prize nominee Theresa Rebeck, Seminar tells the story of four aspiring young writers, who all have paid big bucks to seek wisdom at the feet of the fearsome Leonard – once a celebrated novelist, now a cantankerous editor, teacher and grandstanding chronicler of third-world war zones. Directed Terry by Johnson and starring Roger Allam, this is not one to miss.

Tickets for the performance can be bought directly from Cancerkin and include a pre-play drinks reception. Thanks to our fantastic volunteers, all of the official invitations have now been sent, so do keep an eye out for your letter! Alternatively, ticket order forms can be downloaded from our website.

If you have any queries about the event, please contact on h.lovering@cancerkin.org.uk or by calling 020 7830 2323.

Want to learn exactly how to use your camera?
David Bishop, the Royal Free photographer who takes such excellent photos of all our events, is kindly volunteering his time to run a one-off class on how to get the best from your camera. The session will take place on Friday 12th September, from 11.00am to 12.30pm and only a few spaces remain.

To book onto the session, please contact Reema on r.ved@cancerkin.org.uk or call 0207 830 2323.  Please note that you will need a working camera to participate in this class.

NICE rejects new breast cancer treatment drug for routine use on the NHS as it is too expensive
Last week, the NHS drugs advisory body, NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) rejected making a new breast cancer treatment drug, Kadcyla, routinely available on the NHS as it is too expensive. This was widely reported across the media, leading to much discussion on how drugs are approved for use in the NHS and how flexible drug companies should be on pricing these drugs.

Kadcyla is designed to treat patients suffering from secondary breast cancer, and has been found to add an average of six months to the lives of terminally ill patients whose breast cancer has spread, cannot be surgically removed and has stopped responding to treatment.

The treatment is estimated to cost £90,000 per patient for a course of 14 months – making it easily the most expensive drug for advanced breast cancer that has been submitted to NICE in recent years. NICE originally rejected the drug in April, due to its cost, and have been in negotiations with Roche, the manufacturer of Kadcyla, since. However, despite Roche offering the drug at a reduced price, it was still too expensive for NICE to approve for routine use in the NHS. This has lead NICE to criticize Roche, with Sir Andrew Dillon, NICE Chief Executive saying: “Although Roche proposed a discount to the full list price of Kadcyla, it made little difference to its value for money, leaving it well above the top of our specially extended range of cost effectiveness for cancer drugs.

“We are really disappointed that Roche were not able to demonstrate more flexibility to help us make a positive recommendation.”

Jennifer Cozzone, head of health economics and pricing at Roche, responded saying: “We’re very disappointed with this decision and, frankly, not just for patients who would have had the opportunity to receive Kadcyla with a positive decision.

“Considering Kadcyla is the eighth medicine in a row that NICE has declined to make available to women with advanced breast cancer in the UK, we don’t believe this is a question of the price… We believe that this is an issue with how NICE considers medicines in advanced breast cancer.”

Currently, the only way to receive Kadcyla is with a special request from a doctor for it to be funded by the Cancer Drugs Fund. Since April, over 200 people have received the drug in this way, but the Fund is due to stop in 2016.

Sally Greenbrook, Senior Policy Officer at Breakthrough Breast Cancer, neatly summed up the issue, saying: “Sadly this news has not come as a shock to us – Kadcyla is a brilliant drug, but it’s also incredibly expensive. NICE have gone over and above their usual processes to try to approve it but despite this, and the discount offered by the manufacturer, the revised price for Kadcyla is still too high to be considered cost effective.

“We believe all cancer patients should be able to access the best possible treatment but for this to happen within the confines of the NHS budget, prices set by the pharmaceutical industry for impressive, life-extending drugs such as Kadcyla must come down. It’s impossible to put a price on life’s precious moments. But it’s not impossible to put a fair price on drugs.

“We want to see the Department of Health and the pharmaceutical industry working together to find a long-term solution to this ongoing problem and a sustainable system put in place by which new treatments can be made available to those that need them. Until then, NICE will be forced to reject these cutting-edge treatments, leaving people facing terminal illnesses with fewer treatment options.”

For more information, please see BBC Online, The Telegraph and Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

On the pulse 13 August 2014

  • Cancerkin at Beckton Community Centre’s Health Promotion Day
  • Study shows that older women who walk four hours per week can reduce their risk of developing breast cancer

Cancerkin at Beckton Community Centre’s Health Promotion Day
The East London team were in Beckton this week, running a stall at Beckton Community Centre’s Health Promotion Day.  The team informally spoke to guests about the importance of breast awareness: giving information on the signs and symptoms of breast cancer; dispelling common myths and teaching them how to check their breasts. One of our Awareness Ambassadors, Irina, also gave a talk on breast awareness to the Newham Chinese Association, who organised the Health Promotion Day. She spoke to 46 people, and a volunteer at the Centre translated her talk into Mandarin Chinese to ensure everyone fully understood her message. The talk was very well received, with many listeners asking for us to come more frequently so others could hear how important breast awareness is.

We would like to thank Nandita Saha, from Beckton Community Centre, for organising the Health Promotion Day and inviting us to be a part of it.  We would also like to thank Irina, who volunteered her time to organise and deliver such a successful breast awareness talk, and everyone at Beckton Community Centre for accommodating us so well.

The Breast Awareness stalls and talks the East London team organise allow us to reach communities which may not otherwise hear the breast awareness message. If you know of a community group which would benefit from a free breast awareness talk, please call the East London team on 020 7830 2310 or email eastldn@cancerkin.org.uk.

Study shows that older women who walk four hours per week can reduce their risk of developing breast cancer
A recent French study, published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, has found that postmenopausal women who take four hours of light exercise a week (30 minutes per day) were 10% less likely to develop breast cancer than those who did no exercise.

Almost 60,000 postmenopausal women took part in the study, which used questionnaires to measure their activity levels for the previous four years. Each participant completed a questionnaire every two years for a total of eight years. The researchers measured activities in metabolic equivalent hours, METs, as it incorporates both the intensity and duration of exercise in one figure. They found that participants who regularly exercised were less likely to develop breast cancer, with this effect peaking at 12 METs – the equivalent of four hours of walking or two hours of sport, like cycling – per week. Women who exercised at this level for four years or more were 10% less likely to develop breast cancer over the eight years the study covered. However, women who exercised for longer or more intensely than 12 METs per week did not cut the risk of cancer further, with Dr Agnès Fournier, the lead author of the study, saying: “Our study shows it is not necessary to engage in vigorous or very frequent activities; even walking 30 minutes per day is beneficial. ”

The findings also showed that those who had exercised regularly five to nine years previously but had since stopped did not have a lowered risk of developing breast cancer. This is the first study to demonstrate how quickly the link between exercise and decreased risk can develop after regular exercise starts and how fast it disappears once exercise stops. As such, Dr Fournier said: “It was not [previously] clear how rapidly [the link between exercise and cancer risk] is observed after regular physical activity is begun or for how long it lasts after regular exercise stops. Our study answers these questions. We found that recreational physical activity – even of modest intensity – seemed to have a rapid impact on breast cancer risk.

“However, the decreased breast cancer risk we found associated with physical activity was attenuated when activity stopped.

“As a result, postmenopausal women who exercise should be encouraged to continue and those who do not exercise should consider starting because their risk of breast cancer may decrease rapidly.”

Interestingly, the findings were not affected by the women’s weight or waist circumference, meaning the decreased risk resulted from being active, rather than losing weight.

Sally Greenbrook, Senior Policy Officer at Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said “Being physically active doesn’t need to be running or going to the gym – it can be anything from playing actively with your children, walking or gardening – anything that raises your pulse reduces your risk.

“Breast cancer is most common in postmenopausal women so it is great to see evidence like this which supports the message that physical activity in this age group is beneficial.”

For more information, please visit The Telegraph, The Independent, and The Mail Online.

Cancerkin runs weekly classes in yoga, tai chi, Pilates, CanExercise and Dance Yourself Happy. For more information on any of these, please visit our website. To book onto any of the sessions, please contact Reema on r.ved@cancerkin.org.uk or 0207 830 2323.