Included below are news items from the last six months.
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10 laboratory medicine scientists have recently been named in the Science Council’s list of the UK’s top 100 scientists. This demonstrates the strength and influence that laboratory medicine has within the UK. These scientists have been recognised for their expertise, skills and leadership and are an example of the outstanding contribution laboratory medicine scientists make to the NHS.
Screening to prevent and detect cervical cancer is based on cells being brushed from the cervix into liquid preservative and examined in the laboratory under a microscope (cytology). An alternative testing strategy, screening the cells first for human papilloma virus (HPV), has been shown to lead to the detection of a larger number of treatable pre-cancerous lesions. A follow-up study of 176,464 women who had taken part in four European randomised trials that tested these screening alternatives was published online in The Lancet on 3 November 2013. HPV-based screening was found to provide 60-70% greater protection against the development of invasive cancer of the cervix than cytology-based screening.
In April 2011 the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommended that General Practitioners (GPs) should offer a blood test for CA125 to women with non-specific symptoms suggestive of ovarian cancer; GPs should then arrange for those with raised values to have an ultrasound examination of the abdomen and pelvis. A UK study presented at the recent European Cancer Conference in Amsterdam found that there was nearly a three-fold increase in GP requests for CA125 tests following the recommendation. Most women with raised values were referred for investigation. Although the commonest causes of raised CA125 values were benign gynaecological conditions, nearly 11% were found to have ovarian cancer and nearly as many non-ovarian cancers were identified.
On 3 October 2013, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommended that faecal calprotectin testing could be used as an option to support clinicians in making the diagnosis of IBD and IBS, in cases where bowel cancer is not suspected.