Cancer has featured frequently in the press over the last few days.
The first was the startling breakthrough where two patients at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota USA with inoperable prostate cancer recovered after just one dose of an experimental drug.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men and this is being hailed as a massive step forward in combating the disease. The results were beyond the researchers’ dreams. One of the patients had an enlarged prostate that was riddled with cancer but, after the treatment, the prostate was found to have shrunk and the cancer extremely hard to find.
More good news from the USA comes in the form of work on a vaccine that targets protein found in breast cancer tumours. The idea is to vaccinate against the problem ever occurring. The vaccine has been trialled on mice bred to be cancer-prone. Those given the vaccine did not develop cancer, those that were not died.
"We believe that this vaccine will someday be used to prevent breast cancer in adult women in the same way that vaccines have prevented many childhood diseases. If it works in humans the way it works in mice, this will be monumental. We could eliminate breast cancer." Said Vincent Tuohy, from the Cleveland Clinic Learner Research Institute.
But then comes worrying news from Cancer Research UK about a large increase in male deaths from malignant melanoma.
But the level of female deaths from this form of cancer has also risen.
Since the 1970s the number of men dying from malignant melanoma has risen from 400 per 100,000 to over 1,100 per 100,000. The number of female deaths although much lower has increased from 1.5 to 2.2 per 100,000.
According to Cancer Research UK this cancer is preventable by limiting exposure to sunburn and keeping an eye on skin moles. The earlier a problem is found the easier it is to deal with.