Tag Archives: World Health Organization

Why don’t UK cancer treatments learn from abroad?

World Health Organisation constantly places

UK at bottom of treatment tables

Why?  Asking NHS big-wigs just gets a shrug of the shoulders.

United Nations World Health Organisation logo

UN World Health Organisation Wikipedia .

But waking up with bleeding blisters all over my body, three days after starting Tamoxifen, acted as a wake-up call.

I went to France to find out why the French live longer than we do after a cancer diagnosis (average 4.6 years) and if they were any better at giving helpful treatment.

I had been told by a top Oncologist “it’s your age” that caused the bloody blisters – and felt sure that was wrong.

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Finding Centres in Europe

Some helpful Cancer contact sites


United Nations World Health Organisation logo

United Nations World Health Organisation logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



These are some sites that provide helpful information when you are Googling to find somewhere for treatment.


Listing these sites does not constitute any kind of recommendation.


But readers will find a huge amount of information listing contacts at various centres abroad.


Most of the sites are written in English, or have a translation button to click on.


Organisation of European Cancer Institutes (OECI)




Under ‘Membership’ on the OECI website, there is a geographical breakdown:  e.g. 11 members are listed for France.


The Cancer Index website




has a list of 22 French cancer resources here


Canceractive website


Five ‘top’ cancer treatment centres are listed here;  one is the Institut Gustave Roussey in French, which treats many, many top politicians and VIPs from other countries.

Europa Donna


EUROPA DONNA (ED), the European Breast Cancer Coalition, is an independent non-profit organisation whose members representing 46 countries are affiliated groups from countries throughout Europe.   The Coalition works to raise awareness of breast cancer and to mobilise the support of European women in pressing for improved breast cancer education, appropriate screening, optimal treatment and increased funding for research. ED represents the interests of European women regarding breast cancer to local and national authorities as well as to institutions of the EU.  Currently they are engaged in forming a list of recognised breast cancer treatment centres throughout Europe.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer




IARC is part of the World Health Organization, and provides an international perception.  They have a page dedicated to a series of ‘useful links’ on cancer organisations.  This is principally of interest to doctors and nurses working in oncology – but if you are an  ‘informed patient’ you might find just the data you are looking for!


IARC’s mission is to coordinate and conduct research on the causes of human cancer, the mechanisms of carcinogenesis, and to develop scientific strategies for cancer prevention and control. The Agency is involved in both epidemiological and laboratory research and disseminates scientific information through publications, meetings, courses, and fellowships.


They issue very useful and interesting monthly News alerts.  This is an extract from one such alert:


1.  IARC Scientific Publication No 163 – Molecular Epidemiology: Principles and Practices
01/04/2012 –
Molecular Epidemiology: Principles and Practices
IARC Scientific Publication No 163
Edited by Nathaniel Rothman, Pierre Hainaut, Paul Schulte, Martyn Smith, Paolo Boffetta and Frederica Perera.  This book captures the fascinating developments and provides an extended, forward-looking vision of the principles, practice and impact of Molecular Epidemiology. Written and coordinated by world leaders in the field, the book covers, in a systematic way, the major conceptual advances, with a strong emphasis on study design and on how to incorporate biomarker studies into epidemiology practice.  Read more , Order at WHO Press


2.  We are pleased to announce the publication of a list of carcinogenic agents – by cancer site – with sufficient or limited evidence in humans. The list will be updated regularly as new classifications are announced.


See List of Classifications by Cancer Site , IARC Monographs website
IARC Latin America Collaboration


3.  The directors of national cancer institutions from 15 Latin American countries met in Lyon in March 2012 under the initiative of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), to discuss the current status of research on cancer prevention and control in the region.


4.  The Lancet – Cancer mortality in India: a nationally representative survey
This landmark study, as well as providing a unique snapshot of the current Indian situation with respect to cancer mortality, paves the way for other emerging economies to implement similar systems in settings where the civil death registration systems (CRS) are either non-existent or too weak to provide reliable information on the numbers and causes of deaths.


Cancer mortality in India: a nationally representative survey.
R Dikshit, P C Gupta, C Ramasundarahettige, V Gajalakshmi, L Aleksandrowicz, R Badwe, R Kumar, S Roy, W Suraweera, F Bray, M Mallath, P K Singh, D N Sinha, A S Shet, H Gelband, P Jha, for the Million Death Study Collaborators
The Lancet, Early Online Publication, 28 March 2012 doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)60358-4


5.  El Espectador – Una vez más la salud en crisis
Interview of Dr Chris Wild for the Colombian newspaper El Espectador: Health in crisis, once again.
Read more (available only in Spanish) , Website El Espectador


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When will our politicians get off their behinds and improve cancer care in Britain?

UIC research

Image via Wikipedia

The World Cancer Research Fund confirms poor cancer health


But as usual, the boffins blame the poor results  on us – the patient.


Am still trying to get my head around this – but their press release shows latest official figures suggest almost a fifth more women in this country develop cancer before the age of 75, compared with those on the continent.

The World Cancer Research Fund, which unearthed the data, fears that the difference could be down to the fact that British women drink and eat too much!!!!!!!  That’s right, we are to blame.

Red Herrings galore

This seems to be yet another red herring, and attempts to put the blame on us.  No-one ever mentions poor care – but then they want to keep politicians happy.  I go on their website and the home page shows three out of the six pictures we can click, take readers through to donations page.

Instead of constantly blaming us, why not stop pontificating and mouthing hot air, and get down to some solid work to improve our treatment options?  My European friends are just as fat, and certainly are used to drinking more.  But their doctors keep an eye on their health, and will give sensible advice.

What’s more, in those countries with better health outcomes I bet you their doctors give more time for appointments.

Doctors say it is often the “Oh – by the way…..” comment from a patient as they are leaving, that actually shows up what the patient has come to see them about.  With the NHS ten minute appointment system – there is no time to take this further.

Last year we were told that our poor survival rate was down to not taking up screening.  Then the WHO (World Health Organisation) came up with research that said Britain had one of the best rates in Europe for screening take up.  So they have to think up another excuse – and come up with obesity and drink.

 Why don’t we undertake our own research?

Having been treated in Europe and Britain, I can say that in Europe I got good, old-fashioned care from doctors who LISTEN to their patients;  giving adequate TIME for a consultation – not TEN MINUTES.

Back to the WCRF research, and Dr. Rachel Thompson, Deputy Head of Science, says,  “On average, women in the UK are more likely to be overweight and to drink more alcohol than the European average, and this is a concern because both these factors increase cancer risk.

“They are not the only reasons for the differing cancer rates, but there is now very strong evidence that women who drink a lot of alcohol are at increased risk of developing the disease and that excess body fat is also an important risk factor.

“This is why one of the big public health challenges we face today is to reduce the amount of alcohol we drink as a nation and to get a grip on the obesity crisis before it spirals out of control.

“Together with other factors such as being physically active and eating a healthy plant-based diet without too much salt or red and processed meat, these changes could make a real difference to the number of women who develop cancer before the age of 75.

Hang on!

In Britain, the Office for National Statistics reported last month that 130,043 women were newly diagnosed with the disease in England alone in 2009, a rise of 2.6 per cent on the previous year. But if we have such a good record in up-take of breast screening, then it follows that there will be a rise.

And although this is apparently almost 20 per cent more than the average of 21 per cent recorded across Europe, don’t forget Europe includes many countries where mammograms are difficult to obtain.

Two years ago Europa Donna, the European-wide breast cancer charity, selected me to go on one of their excellent advocacy training courses.  During the intensive training, participants from over 40 ‘European’ countries were asked to role playand ‘imagine what their country’s breast screening would be like if it were  ‘Gold Standard’.

Some of the delegates were bemused by this;  one of them telling me it was almost impossible to obtain a mammogram in their country.  ergo – if it is incredibly difficult to obtain this – no wonder breast cancer doesn’t show up in their health statistics.

Skewed evidence

One comment in the WCRF report even says ” a pint of beer raises cancer risk by a fifth”.

Sorree – what?  Where do they get this from?

Then I remember Winston Churchill was quoted as  saying

Statistics are like a drunk using a lamp post – used more for support than illumination.

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What Does "Osteopenia" Really Mean?

Portrait of Johns Hopkins

Johns Hopkins Wikipedia

Let Johns Hopkins explain

Perhaps you’ve been told — or you’ve read — that osteopenia presents a serious risk factor for the development of osteoporosis. Or perhaps you’ve had a bone density test and your doctor has told you that the results mean you have osteopenia.

So information that has just come through from The Johns Hopkins University (or Johns Hopkins or JHU) –                 a private research university –  is very appropriate.

But first, why am I so excited about Johns Hopkins?

Hopkins was a benefactor to the University named after him,  founded Baltimore, USA, in 1876.  The University pioneered the concept of the modern research university, and has been ranked among the world’s top such universities throughout its history.

Rated by the US National Science Foundation (NSF) as #1 among U.S. academic institutions,  thirty-three Nobel Prize winners have been affiliated with Johns Hopkins, and the university’s research is among the most cited in the world.

So it is all the sadder when a doctor sneers “I suppose you got this off the Internet”, and I reply  “this information came from Johns Hopkins” – and they haven’t a clue what I am talking about.  This  dismisses the incredible  research carried out at JHU, for our benefit.

So what does “Osteopenia” really mean?

Perhaps you’ve been told — or you’ve read — that osteopenia presents a serious risk factor for the development of osteoporosis?  Or perhaps you’ve had a bone density test and your doctor has told you that the results mean you have osteopenia. If so, you probably have questions.

Here are some basics on osteopenia from JHU’s  Special Report on What You Should Know About Osteopenia.

Osteopenia is a word coined by the World Health Organization (WHO) that doesn’t mean anything in particular other than a specific category of T-scores, corresponding to a bone density value between 1 and 2.5 standard deviations below the average value at peak bone mass.

WHO originally set up T-scores as an epidemiologic tool to measure rates of low bone density across countries. T-scores were never intended to be used to label individual patients with some kind of diagnosis.

Another important caveat is that the data being reviewed at the time by WHO experts was all collected from postmenopausal Caucasian women. The WHO researchers looked at this data set, looked at the relationship between T-scores and fractures and said, “Well, what cut point should we use to define osteoporosis?” They picked -2.5 because about a third of postmenopausal women will have a T-score below -2.5 and the lifetime risk of fracture for a 50-year-old Caucasian woman is around 39 percent.

Their thinking went this way: “If we pick -2.5, this gives us a prevalence of osteoporosis that is approximately equal to the lifetime risk of fracture for a woman at the time of menopause.” This seemed like a rational cut point to examine rates of osteoporosis across countries. Then the researchers decided to devise a middle category of bone density to avoid having simply “normal” and “osteoporosis” categories. So, they decided to make a middle category of T-scores between -1 and -2.5 and labeled this category “osteopenia.”

Many osteoporosis experts would like to see the term osteopenia just fade away because it is confusing to both patients and health care professionals. All it means is that a person’s T-score is between -1.0 and -2.5. We’d like to see “osteopenia” replaced with a term like “low bone density.” That’s because we want people to focus on their 10-year risk of fracture and not worry about their specific bone-density category as defined by T-score.

Interested in Learning More About Osteopenia?

JHU says bone loss is NOT an inevitable part of the aging process. If you have been diagnosed with osteopenia or low bone mass, they have published a report What You Should Know About Osteopenia which can help  reverse osteopenia and prevent osteoporosis.

The report provides the latest thinking on the causes and treatments of osteopenia or low bone mass and explores in depth the current debate over when and who should be treated for low bone density. You’ll learn about healthy bone development … the process of bone turnover … how to maintain healthy bones … the most effective non-drug measures to prevent or reduce bone loss … and JHU answers important questions that get to the heart of fracture risk.

Can this really help?

Well, European doctors think yes.  If you are put on aromatase inhibitors, your will be offered a DXA Scan for an annual ‘bone density check’.  I found out that I had Osteoporosis during one check, but wasn’t told anything I could do to reverse this.  But I was ‘lucky enough to have suffered injury through negligence of a restaurant, and for a year had physiotherapy and exercise.  Then went off to Italy and Austria, and we included in their exercise programme for Osteoporosis.

Result was, last time I had a DXA scan, both the technician and my Professor were delighted that I have started to reverse this;   my Professor says by 21%.

I go to mylocal hospital to ask if I can be included in their weekly exercise programme, but am told “we don’t do anything for Osteoporosis”.  They will happily treat me when I get a fracture (cost to NHS minimum £12,000), but won’t allocate around £5 – £8 pp to give locals weekly exercise to prevent fractures.

For more information, or to order.

Johns Hopkins Publications  http://www.johnshopkinshealthalerts.com/special_reports/arthritis_reports/Osteopenia_landing.html?ET=johnshopkins:e45926:1516623a:&st=email&s=EOH_110603_001

Cost $24.95

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