LONDON - A daily pill slashes the risk of dying from lung cancer by 51%, according to “thrilling” and “unprecedented” results from a decade-long global study.

The results, which were presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s annual meeting in Chicago, showed that taking the drug osimertinib after surgery dramatically reduced the risk of death.

“Thirty years ago, there was nothing we could do for these patients,” said Dr Roy Herbst, the deputy director of Yale Cancer Center and lead author of the study. “Now we have this potent drug.”

Five good-news cancer breakthroughs in 2023

Cancer-sniffing ants, ‘Bond villain’ DNA, and vaccine trials are just a few exciting developments in cancer research this year.

The number of people diagnosed with cancer every year in the UK is projected to rise to 500,000 by 2040, according to Cancer Research – but recent scientific breakthroughs provide a glimmer of hope for a cancer-free future.

Around 167,000 people die of cancer in the UK every year, according to Cancer Research UK, and that number is projected to rise by almost a quarter by 2040.

This rise is primarily due to an ageing population as well as high smoking and obesity levels, said the charity.

The recent rise in waiting times at UK hospitals isn’t helping the increase, said The Guardian. Fewer than 3% of NHS Trusts met the waiting time target of treating 85% of patients within two months of an urgent referral last year, leaving patients with their “lives left hanging in the balance,” tweeted Macmillan Cancer Support.

But in recent years scientists have made major breakthroughs in cancer research and treatments. Here are some of the latest discoveries.

A simple test for breast cancer

A fingerprint test could be used to screen women for breast cancer. That’s the possibility raised by a study of 15 women which found that sweat on the fingers contains proteins that make it possible to detect breast cancer with a high degree of accuracy.

Researchers at Sheffield Hallam University used a technology called Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption Ionisation Mass Spectrometry (MALDI MS) to analyse fingerprint smears from patients with benign, early or metastatic breast cancer.

With machine-learning applied, the technology was able to predict the category of cancer with an accuracy rate of almost 98%.

Current methods of screening and detection, such as biopsy and mammogram, are effective, but they can be uncomfortable for patients. The team said their trial had only provided proof of concept, but hoped to now take their research to the next stage after promising results so far.

Loyalty cards to detect cancer

Almost 95% of patients diagnosed with stage one ovarian cancer will survive for five or more years. But the odds of survival fall rapidly for later diagnoses – and the cancer is one of the most difficult to detect early.

Researchers at Imperial College London have found a novel mechanism for identifying cases sooner: supermarket loyalty-card data.