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BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 21 September 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d5932

Breast and cervical cancers are still rising worldwide

The number of women developing cancers of the breast or cervix has increased steadily worldwide since 1980, according to new estimates from 187 countries. The number of deaths has also increased year on year but more slowly, particularly for cervical cancer. In 2010, the two cancers combined killed an estimated 625 000 women worldwide—the equivalent of six full jumbo jets crashing every day, says an editorial (doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(11)61459-1). Each year, more women now die of breast cancer or cervical cancer than die in childbirth.

Although individual women in developed countries have a higher lifetime probability of disease than individual women in developing countries (peaking at 13% for breast cancer in Denmark), most new cases and deaths still occur in developing countries, say the authors.

Data on incidences and deaths are incomplete in many countries, so even with sophisticated modelling these data tell only part of the story, says the editorial. Global efforts to tackle breast cancer and cervical cancer must start with better registers of cancers and deaths in countries currently lacking even the basics. Good cancer surveillance is affordable, and it is urgent.

Prototype malaria vaccine doesn’t work for children in Mali

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GlaxoSmithKline’s latest malaria vaccine failed to prevent clinical disease in a recent trial in Mali. Children given three doses at monthly intervals mounted a good immune response, but an estimated 48.4% still developed clinical falciparum malaria over the next six months. A comparable proportion of controls, who were given a rabies vaccine, also developed clinical malaria (54.4%; hazard ratio 0.83, 95% CI 0.63 to 1.09). Four hundred children aged 1-6 years took part.

The authors were testing a monovalent prototype directed against the blood stage of the falciparum malaria parasite. The active ingredient (antigen) is a membrane protein called …

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