In brief

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 20 August 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g5247

Big fall in death rates from many major cancers: The combined death rates from breast, bowel, lung, and prostate cancer have fallen by 30% in the past 20 years, figures from Cancer Research UK have shown. Death rates from breast cancer fell by 38%, bowel cancer by 34%, lung cancer by 27%, and prostate cancer by 21%. Together, these cancers account for almost half of all deaths from cancer in the United Kingdom. However, mortality rates from liver, pancreatic, melanoma, oral, and some digestive cancers have increased.1

Clinical trials that end early are rarely published unless they show a treatment benefit: Most clinical trials are never published if they are stopped early, says a study published in JAMA. The researchers looked at 1017 clinical trials conducted in Switzerland, Germany, and Canada from 2000 to 2003. They found that 25% had ended earlier than planned, usually because of problems in recruiting volunteers; around 60% of these trials have still not been published. Nine trials were stopped because it became clear that the treatment had a beneficial effect; all of these trials have been published.2

Older people’s unmet social care needs are growing: Nearly a third of older people who have difficulty carrying out everyday activities such as eating, washing, and dressing receive no formal or informal help, Age UK has said. Four in five people with unmet needs need help taking medication, over two thirds have difficulties eating, and half struggle to wash themselves. In the past seven years the number of people aged 65 or over who receive social care services has fallen by 27%.

Most people want health professionals to have access to their health data: Most of the UK public want any health professional treating them to have access to key electronic data from their GP record, says an online survey by YouGov for the healthcare information specialist group EMIS. Nearly a third of people are shocked to learn that it is not standard practice for patient information to be shared electronically, and nearly two thirds are worried that, if this does not happen in emergency departments, it could cause treatment delays or potentially life threatening medical errors.3

WHO calls for screening of travellers in Ebola areas: The World Health Organization has called on all countries affected by the Ebola outbreak to screen passengers who are leaving international airports, seaports, and major ground crossings. It added that countries in west Africa unaffected by the outbreak should strengthen their powers to detect and contain new cases, without doing anything that unnecessarily interferes with international travel or trade. It has set up a taskforce to monitor the effect of Ebola on travel and transport.

New Medicine Service improves patient compliance: The New Medicine Service—an advanced pharmacy service to support patients with long term medication who are prescribed a new medicine—has been shown to improve compliance among patients. A randomised controlled trial showed that seven in 10 patients who used the New Medicine Service took their medicine as directed or sought help, compared with six in 10 in the control group. The research suggested that the service could increase a patient’s length and quality of life and save the NHS money.4


Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g5247


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