On the pulse 1 August 2014


  • Cancerkin’s Theatre Evening 6 October 2014!
  • Darkness at night key to success of tamoxifen treatment

Seminar is Cancerkin’s Theatre Evening on Monday 6 October 2014!

We have just received the good news from the Hampstead Theatre that this year, Cancerkin’s theatre evening in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month will take place on Monday 6 October 2014. Pulitzer Prize nominee Theresa Rebeck‘s mordant comedy Seminar is a sparkling cocktail of ambition, power and lust – and one with an unexpected kick.


‘Life is complicated. People are complicated. If you can’t figure that out, you’ll never be much of a writer.’
Four aspiring young writers 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…Under Leonard’s recklessly brilliant but brutally unorthodox tuition, competition for his approval is intense and the students clash. Alliances are made and broken, tactical schemes are hatched – how far are they willing to go to make it to the top?


Seminar is directed by Terry Johnson following his critically acclaimed Hysteria last year starring Antony Sher which was so popular with Cancerkin supporters. His other recent hits at Hampstead include Race by David Mamet and Old Money starring Maureen Lipman.

Tickets can be bought directly from Cancerkin and include a drinks reception before the performance.  There is an “early bird” discount price of £45 (tickets will be £55 after Friday 5 September 2014). To book your ticket and guarantee your place please contact Holly on h.lovering@cancerkin.org.uk.

We are currently looking for ‘envelope-stuffers’ to help us get these invitations out as quickly as possible! We will, of course, provide drinks and biscuits. Any time anyone can spare would be so greatly appreciated (even if it is just half an hour before a massage!). If you would like to help, please contact Holly on h.lovering@cancerkin.org.uk or 020 7830 2323. Alternatively, if you are in the Cancerkin Centre and would like to help, just speak to any member of staff.

If you have any questions please contact Holly on h.lovering@cancerkin.org.uk or call 020 7830 2323.

Darkness at night key to success of tamoxifen treatment

Scientists from the University of Tulane in New Orleans have suggested that sleeping in complete darkness is the key to the success of breast cancer treatment.

The study published in the journal Cancer Research is the first to show that exposure to the light shuts off night time production of the hormone melatonin which is critical for the success of tamoxifen, an anti-oestrogen drug that is widely used to treat breast cancer.

The researchers found that tamoxifen delayed and slowed tumour growth in animals with either high night time levels of melatonin during complete darkness or receiving melatonin supplementation during dim light at night exposure.  The study shows that melatonin production is necessary for tamoxifen to work in breast cancer therapy.

David Blask, co-lead researcher, said: ‘High melatonin levels at night put breast cancer cells to ‘sleep’ by turning off key growth mechanisms. These cells are vulnerable to tamoxifen. But when the lights are on and melatonin is suppressed, breast cancer cells ‘wake up’ and ignore tamoxifen.’

Co-lead Steven Hill said ‘Our study does not identify how much light exposure is needed to suppress night time melatonin production, and potentially drive tamoxifen resistance in humans, but we think that it could be as little as the amount of light that comes in the bedroom window from a street light. We are working toward conducting the studies that will answer this question.’


For more information, please visit the Huffington Post or Medical Daily or Science Daily.

On the pulse 24 April 2014


  • Hampstead Heath Walk 2014
  • Study identifies  first genetic variant which increases the risk of invasive lobular carcinoma

Hampstead Heath Walk

The first Cancerkin Hampstead Heath Walk is now only six weeks away (on Sunday 8th June 2014) and we are all working hard to ensure the day will be a success.  Lots of our supporters have already signed up or volunteered to be marshals and we would love you come along and join in as well.


The walk follows a beautiful route across the Heath, and you can chose to walk, jog or run either a 5km or 10km trail. The walk begins at 10.30am (registration opens at 9.15am) and it promises to be a day of fun and laughter. To enter, all you need to do is fill out an entry form, which can be found on our website.


If you don’t want to take part in the walk, but would still like to be involved, please do to volunteer to help on the day. Our marshals and other volunteers play a key role in ensuring the day is a success and any support you can offer is so appreciated.


If you have any questions about either taking part in or volunteering for the walk, please contact me. I can be reached either on h.lovering@cancerkin.org.uk or 0207 830 2323 and am happy to answer any queries you may have.


Study has identified the first genetic variant which increases the risk of invasive lobular carcinoma
Research published in PLOS Genetics has identified the first genetic variant specifically associated with invasive lobular carcinoma, a breast cancer sub-type.

Invasive lobular carcinoma accounts for 10 to 15 percent of all breast cancer cases. It develops in the lobes of the breast that produce milk and can be difficult to diagnose as the cancer does not always form a definite lump and so may not be seen on a mammogram. Because of this, it is often diagnosed at a later stage when it is more difficult to treat.

This study, co-led by the Institute of Cancer Research, London, King’s College London and Queen Mary University of London was the largest ever to consider this particular breast cancer sub-type. Involving over 100 research institutions, it compared the DNA of over 6,500 women with invasive lobular cancer with more than 35,000 women without the disease.

They found that women with a particular genetic variant, called rs11977670, had a 13 percent higher chance of developing invasive lobular cancer than women without the variant. This discovery, in addition to other markers, could enable genetic screening tools to be developed to assess a woman’s risk of invasive lobular cancer. It also gave new insights into the genetic causes of the disease as well as lobular carcinoma in situ, a precursor to cancer.

In addition to finding a new genetic variant, the scientists evaluated 75 genetic variants previously linked with increased breast cancer risk. They found that most of these were specifically associated with the risk of invasive lobular cancer as well as overall breast cancer risk. The study also showed for the first time that genetic factors that increase the risk of invasive breast cancer can also predispose to lobular carcinoma in situ.

Study co-author Dr Elinor Sawyer said: “A diagnosis of breast cancer can be devastating, particularly if it is not picked up early and the cancer is at a stage when it may be more difficult to treat. This can be the case for lobular breast cancers as they are difficult to see on mammograms. By identifying genetic factors that result in an increased risk of lobular cancer we hope in the future to be able to find better ways of assessing the risk of developing these cancers, so different screening tests can be offered to those at high risk, as well as finding new treatments for lobular cancer.”

Study co-leader Professor Montserrat Garcia-Closas said: “Our study is the first to link a genetic variant specifically with a higher risk of invasive lobular carcinoma, which accounts for around 10 to 15 per cent of all cases. It also finds that more than 50 previously discovered variants specifically increase the risk of lobular tumours, as well as making breast cancer overall more likely.

“Understanding the genetic factors at work in lobular cancers could be particularly important, because they are often missed by mammography because of their unusual growth patterns. In the future, we hope that improving our knowledge of the genes involved in lobular carcinoma could improve our ability to prevent and treat it.”

For more information please visit Breast Cancer Campaign.

Holly Lovering                                                                                                   24 April 2014

On the pulse 20 March 2014

  • Cancerkin visits Chai Cancer Care
  • New prognostic test for breast cancer could improve patient treatment

Cancerkin visits Chai Cancer Care
As part of Cancerkin’s commitment to work with similar organisations, Victoria Todd (Cancerkin’s Chief Executive) visited the Chai Cancer Care centre this week and met with Louise Hager, Chai’s Chairman, and Lisa Steele, their Chief Executive. She came back very impressed with their stunningly beautiful Centre, the range of therapies they offer and the very warm welcome she received.

Study identifies protein which causes breast cancer cells to migrate
A study published online in The Journal of Cell Biology has identified a protein that causes individual cells to be released from their neighbouring cells and migrate away from healthy breast tissue. Their results, they say, help clarify the molecular changes required for cancer cells to metastasize.

The researchers looked at epithelial cells, which line the inside and outside of organs throughout the body and give rise to 85% of all cancers. In this study, they focused on mammary epithelial cells, which form the ducts that carry milk within the breast. As Dr Ewald, one of the study authors, explains, “tumour cells have to break their connections to other epithelial cells in order to leave the breast and build metastases in other parts of the body.”

The scientists removed small pieces of mammary tissue from normal mice and grew them in gels that mimic their natural environment. By using coloured proteins to mark different types of cells, they were then able to watch how cell behaviour varied with changes to the genetics of the cell.

The first protein studied, E-cadherin, is found on the surface of most epithelial cells and is used to connect epithelial cells to each other.  Its absence is often associated with human breast cancers. Therefore, when the scientists deleted the protein from normal mouse mammary cells, they were surprised to find that most of the epithelial cells still remained connected to each other. The same result was found in live mice.

In a second set of experiments, the team turned on a gene called Twist 1. Within 24 hours, dozens of individual cells had begun to move past the epithelial boundary and into the gel beyond. Again, similar results were seen when this experiment was repeated in live mice.

Further experiments indicated the single cell detachment and migration induced by Twist 1 actually requires the presence of E-caderin – the protein that helps bind cells together. As Dr Ewald says, “This finding is quite counterintuitive and we are eager to understand the biology behind it…our goal is to improve outcomes for patients with metastatic breast cancer, and this work takes us one step closer to doing so.”

For more information please visit Science Daily.