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Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute

 
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More than 30,000 cancer experts have descended on Chicago to share a glimpse of the latest in cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment across all types of cancer. The American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting is the largest of its kind in the world. And this means the research on show makes headlines. Lots of them.

We’re here in Chicago to see for ourselves what’s hot. And will be giving you a daily roundup of the media coverage that emerges.

This media coverage comes with several notes of caution though. Most of the results being shared at the conference are a preliminary look at ongoing clinical trials, and in some cases those trials are at an early stage. The researchers are also tasked with delivering these updates in incredibly short talks. This, combined with the media’s hunt for a good story, means that details can be missed, confusingly presented or the scale and stage of a study not made clear to the reader.

So, to help you judge these media stories for yourself, we’ve written this 6-point cheat sheet on what to look out for.

Now, on to the news from day one.

‘Holy grail’ blood test

The UK’s media pounced on the story of an experimental blood test that can detect different cancers in some people who have already been diagnosed with those cancers. But a key thing to spot is that the test also missed some of these cancers. And it has yet to be put through its paces in diagnosing cancer in people who don’t already know they have it.

The unpublished results made several front pages in the UK. And the potential output was portrayed as a simple blood test that can detect multiple types of cancer before symptoms occur. This is an exciting idea, and one researchers really are pursuing. But this doesn’t really tally with what the research shows so far.

Do black and white men fare differently on prostate cancer treatment?

On day one, the ASCO media team turned its focus towards disparities in cancer treatment.

Two prostate cancer studies were selected as highlights to be shared with journalists. In both cases, the results suggest that black men may do as well or better on certain treatments for advanced prostate cancer than white men.

The research, along with other studies focusing on gender and geographical differences, highlights the importance of inclusive and representative clinical trial design – something that will be vital in making treatment truly personal.

Follow along

That’s it for our briefing from day one of ASCO 2018. You can keep an eye on the conference by following #ASCO18 on Twitter. And we’ll be updating this post throughout the conference as new headlines break

Nick

2 Jun 2018

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