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  1. Researchers get high-tech scanners

    Nearly a quarter of a billion pounds was pledged yesterday to equip UK medical researchers with the latest technologies.

    The project will see universities and other research centres spending millions of pounds on high-tech scanning devices.

    At London's Institute of Cancer Research, scientists will be developing a device to combine linear accelerator radiation with an MRI scanner.

    They hope the device, called an MR-Linac, will enable doctors to track the impact on a tumour of radiotherapy.

    In Yorkshire, the universities of Leeds and York plan to boost MRI image signals by as much as 100,000 times, a technology called SABRE.

    The Medical Research Council said it had raised £80 million from charities and other sources to top up a government investment of £150 million.

    Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne travelled to Exeter, Devon, to announce the funding.

    He said: "The funding will go to 23 truly innovative projects from across the UK today that represent the best of British ingenuity and scientific exploration."

    Nottingham University said it would be spending £9 million on new MRI equipment to create a Sir Peter Mansfield Imaging Centre.

    At Sheffield University, researchers hope that a £7.5 million cash injection will help them develop new ways of studying lung diseases.

  2. English need to get fit and active - campaign

    A new drive has been launched to get the English fit and active.

    The project was launched by Public Health England yesterday and it called for physical activity to become the "social norm."

    The launch coincided with NHS England's frank assessment of the problems of the NHS and its call for "demand" for services to be reduced by improved health.

    Public Health England said more than 1,000 national and local leaders in physical activity had signed up to its "Everybody Active, Every Day" framework.

    One of these, Sport England, promised £5 million of funding for projects centred on the least active.

    Professor Kevin Fenton, of Public Health England, said: “Physical inactivity is unrecognised as a significant health, social and economic burden on individuals and communities in England. It is the fourth greatest cause of ill health in the UK, and a leading contributor to rising levels of many long-term conditions, such as obesity, diabetes and dementia.

    "Our modern lifestyles amplify the problem, with even those who are already taking regular physical activity at risk of damaging their health by spending long periods sitting down."

  3. Lung risk for endurance athletes

    Endurance sports involving cold water, such as the Iron Man challenge, are becoming increasingly popular - but some participants may be at risk of lung disease, experts warned today.

    Cardiologists in Taunton, UK, have identified cases of pulmonary oedema, a condition which causes a build-up of watery fluid in the lungs.

    They say the risk is caused when athletes push themselves to the limit and are "unable or unwilling" to rest.

    According to researcher Dr David MacIver, the risk comes from a unique combination of strenuous swimming, cold water and highly trained individuals.

    The condition can be caused when the heart fails to pump fast enough to remove fluid from the lungs.

    Dr MacIver, from Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton, has issued his warning in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine after coming across two cases of the illness affecting triathletes. He says growing numbers of cases are being reported affecting army trainees and community triathletes.

    He said: “Swimming-induced pulmonary oedema is a well-documented but relatively rare condition that may be misdiagnosed. If an accurate diagnosis and appropriate advice are not given individuals are at increased risk of future life threatening episodes and drowning.

    “If the athlete is in open water and unable or unwilling to rest while there is ongoing stroke volume difference, pulmonary oedema can take place with potentially fatal consequences.

    “An increased awareness of the risk of swimming-induced pulmonary oedema among participants, organisers and medical personnel is important, especially as many may have swum before in the same conditions without experiencing symptoms.”

    Swimming-induced pulmonary oedema in two triathletes: a novel pathophysiological explanation. JRSM 24 October 2014; doi: 10.1177/0141076814543214

  4. Call for more lung cancer ops

    Hundreds of patients with lung cancer are not getting surgery that could save their lives, campaigners warned today.

    According to Cancer Research UK, as many as 1,000 people a year miss out on surgery even though their disease is diagnosed at an early stage.

    The charity says that surgery is responsible for about half the cases when lung cancer is cured.

    The disease kills most of its victims and is usually diagnosed too late for effective treatment.

    The charity set out measures which it said could improve the prospects of people who develop cancer, calling for equal access to surgery, drugs and radiotherapy across the UK.

    Last year about 4,500 people with lung cancer had major surgery. But the charity says many patients are discouraged from having this because of their age.

    Sara Hiom, its director of early diagnosis, said: "Cancer surgery can make all the difference, as recent increases in lung cancer operations have shown, and there has to be a very good reason not to offer patients a potentially life-saving operation.

    “Surgery may not always be an option if the disease has spread, the patient decides they don’t want to undergo surgery or if they aren’t well enough for the operation. But previous research has suggested that some older patients who are eligible for surgery are being overlooked because of their age. It’s vital we remove any barriers so that patients who might benefit from surgery are given that option.

    “These figures also highlight the urgent need to diagnose more lung cancers earlier."

 

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