Monday, 20 April 2015

The cancer running through the NHS...

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Our only hope is to break the two party, failed system...

If you are voting for the first time next month (or at all), please think hard.
I've voted for 45 years, and one thing never changes. The Labour and Conservative parties just swop places at almost every election. They both break the promises they made before the election, they both continue to support a corrupt banking system, the list is endless and NOTHING really ever changes. The NHS declines, as does Education, regardless of who’s in control. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer, same shit, different day!

So, if you feel you MUST vote, then please try and avoid these two parties. At least then, you can hold your head high when the results come in, because you dared to try and change things.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Bowel Cancer Awareness Month 2015

April is Bowel Cancer Awareness month and the campaign is on to make people more aware of this disease and let them know what to do to prevent it from occurring or stopping it in its tracks at the earliest stage.
What is bowel cancer?
Also known as colon or rectal cancer, most bowel cancers develop from non-cancerous polyps which can be removed easily enough if detected early. This cancer occurs when cells in the bowel dramatically multiply and invade the surrounding tissue.
What are the symptoms? 
Among the key indicators of possible bowel cancer are blood in your stools, unexplained weight loss, extreme tiredness and pains in your stomach area. Although these symptoms may not necessarily confirm bowel cancer, if you are at all concerned, then don’t think twice about making an appointment with your doctor. Research shows that over 90% of those who are diagnosed at an early stage are successfully treated, so quick detection can save lives.
The screening test
Regular bowel cancer screening has been shown to reduce the risk of death. The screening programme is available across the UK every two years for people between the ages of 60-74 (50-74 in Scotland). An initial kit is provided with full instructions on how to take the test in the privacy of your own home. Once you return the kit, results will be sent back in around two weeks. Depending on the results, further tests may then be required though that won’t necessarily mean you have cancer.
Can it be avoided?
The exact cause of bowel cancer remains unknown but there are factors which might increase your risk. Around 95% of cases occur in the over-50s with no significant statistical differences between men and women. Those who have direct family members with bowel cancer will be considered for extra testing while people with diabetes, Crohn’s disease in the large bowel or who have had previous polyps removed are at increased risk.
Food and fitness 
As with many diseases and illnesses, keeping fit and healthy and avoiding certain triggers will improve your chances of steering clear of bowel cancer. Do eat plenty of fibre and maintain your five-a-day. Don’t consume processed meats and have no more than 500g of red meat each week. Do keep active with regular exercise and avoid caffeine. Keep an eye on your alcohol limits (maximum of 14 units for women, 21 units for men) and don’t smoke.

Monday, 6 April 2015

A test that costs less than a $1 and yields results in minutes has been shown in newly published studies to be more sensitive and more exact than the current standard test for early-stage prostate cancer.

Dr. Qun "Treen" Huo of UCF's NanoScience Technology Center has developed a prostate cancer test using gold nanoparticles. Pilot studies found it to be more accurate than the standard PSA test.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Central Florida
A test that costs less than a $1 and yields results in minutes has been shown in newly published studies to be more sensitive and more exact than the current standard test for early-stage prostate cancer.
The simple test developed by University of Central Florida scientist Qun "Treen" Huo holds the promise of earlier detection of one of the deadliest cancers among men. It would also reduce the number of unnecessary and invasive biopsies stemming from the less precise PSA test that's now used.
"It's fantastic," said Dr. Inoel Rivera, a urologic oncologist at Florida Hospital Cancer Institute, which collaborated with Huo on the recent pilot studies. "It's a simple test. It's much better than the test we have right now, which is the PSA, and it's cost-effective."
When a cancerous tumor begins to develop, the body mobilizes to produce antibodies. Huo's test detects that immune response using gold nanoparticles about 10,000 times smaller than a freckle.
When a few drops of blood serum from a finger prick are mixed with the gold nanoparticles, certain cancer biomarkers cling to the surface of the tiny particles, increasing their size and causing them to clump together.
Among researchers, gold nanoparticles are known for their extraordinary efficiency at absorbing and scattering light. Huo and her team at UCF's NanoScience Technology Center developed a technique known as nanoparticle-enabled dynamic light scattering assay (NanoDLSay) to measure the size of the particles by analyzing the light they throw off. That size reveals whether a patient has prostate cancer and how advanced it may be.
And although it uses gold, the test is cheap. A small bottle of nanoparticles suspended in water costs about $250, and contains enough for about 2,500 tests.
"What's different and unique about our technique is it's a very simple process, and the material required for the test is less than $1," Huo said. "And because it's low-cost, we're hoping most people can have this test in their doctor's office. If we can catch this cancer in its early stages, the impact is going to be big."
After lung cancer, prostate cancer is the second-leading killer cancer among men, with more than 240,000 new diagnoses and 28,000 deaths every year. The most commonly used screening tool is the PSA, but it produces so many false-positive results -- leading to painful biopsies and extreme treatments -- that one of its discoverers recently called it "hardly more effective than a coin toss."
Pilot studies found Huo's technique is significantly more exact. The test determines with 90 to 95 percent confidence that the result is not false-positive. When it comes to false-negatives, there is 50 percent confidence not ideal, but still significantly higher than the PSA's 20 percent -- and Huo is working to improve that number.
The results of the pilot studies were published recently in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. Huo is also scheduled to present her findings in June at the TechConnect World Innovation Summit & Expo in suburban Washington, D.C.
Huo's team is pursuing more extensive clinical validation studies with Florida Hospital and others, including the VA Medical Center Orlando. She hopes to complete major clinical trials and see the test being used by physicians in two to three years.
Huo also is researching her technique's effectiveness as a screening tool for other tumors.
"Potentially, we could have a universal screening test for cancer," she said. "Our vision is to develop an array of blood tests for early detection and diagnosis of all major cancer types, and these blood tests are all based on the same technique and same procedure."
Huo co-founded Nano Discovery Inc., a startup company headquartered in a UCF Business Incubator, to commercialize the new diagnostic test. The company manufacturers a test device specifically for medical research and diagnostic purposes.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Scotland, the only hope for England?

Let’s get to it and finish the job on independence

LAST week’s incredible celestial events reminded us just how small we humans are in the scheme of things. For sure, we get to strut our stuff on Earth’s catwalk, but ultimately, Nature trumps anything we can do. No matter how all-powerful and all-knowing we think we are, the tangible excitement and interest in Friday’s solar eclipse by the Sheldons in our midst (and his C-men of course) indicates how little we understand the planetary system that provides rhythm and structure to our lives, nor even the small bit we inhabit.
All we can aim for is to contribute what we can, to take control of what we can influence, and shape and fashion it to suit. As we are seeing – much to the consternation of the established, entitled and currently empowered elite – such a mindset is increasingly evident in our country, in our lives, our homes and our communities. We want to be in charge of our own destiny.
I make no apology for offering up the example of Women for Independence – again – in this regard. One of the most remarkable things about this modern monstrous regiment is just how much this self-starting movement has been ignored by all those documenting the referendum campaign and its aftermath. If we are lucky, we get a fleeting mention; invariably how we came about and what we did, if referenced at all, is misconstrued, misinterpreted and misunderstood. It annoys but also bemuses. The reason why Women for Independence is being less than subtly airbrushed out of history by the mainly male commentariat is because we scare the bejaysus out of them. If they ignore us, maybe we will just fade away. But these mothers, daughters and above all sisters are no longer content to stand in the shadows.
By refusing to don the invisibility cloaks society has determined befit women of a certain age and status, Women for Independence will continue to grow and thrive as a national and local campaigning movement, becoming more visible, not less so. These past months, I have witnessed an energy and enthusiasm not dimmed by defeat in September but galvanised by it. I’ve watched in shock and awe and no small amount of regret, for having opted out of its immediate future, I’m aware I’m being left behind. That ship is sailing without me.
For a while I thought my contribution to our body politic was to get me a perch from which to cast a beady eye upon its doings and witter on about it a bit. As some suggested, I appeared to have found my niche and it suited me rather well. Creating the blog A Burdz Eye View in 2010 – for the name and concept is mine, STV, but you are welcome to borrow it – was the right move at the right time. Using a lifetime’s interest in politics and a decade’s engagement in policy-making and influencing to add a female perspective to all things political, I had hoped it would encourage other women to muscle in on this quite masculine world: some have but not nearly enough.
But that was then. Before the referendum. Before I – as much as everyone else – realised that we are not finished, not nearly. Of the 55 per cent who voted No, I would hazard that at most, only 30 per cent are content to stay as we are and for things to stand still. The rest of us – a majority of the population, no less – are up for it. We have boarded a train headed for change, precise destination unknown. We are all part of this journey, including those currently dawdling at the back, with a significant number set on contributing talents, time, skills and knowledge, each finding a way to do so, as best we can. For most it will be enough simply to vote – almost in defiance – for change; for over 100,000 joining the SNP has signalled their intent; for thousands of others, they are finding causes, groups and movements with which to align.
How I contribute is also changing. This is my last column for The National. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to be involved from the outset and I wish it well. Keep reading, subscribing and buying to ensure this vital channel and platform stays with us, helping to document our travels.
The only constant there is currently is change. Everything political, societal and economic is shifting and not necessarily progressively. Zero per cent inflation, trillions of pounds of public debt, harsh austerity measures, wicked welfare reform which will ensure that at least one in four of Scotland’s children will grow up knowing nothing but want, worse prospects for Generation Scot Y than their parents and grandparents all point to a harsher climate. It’s no way to run a country and Scotland is signalling it won’t stand for it.
But we can also take heart from how far our nation has travelled already. We rather like the taste of power, control and responsibility allowed us by incremental degrees of devolution and yes please, we would like some more. Scotland has changed, is changing and will change more.
Nearly half the population has a dream that will never die. But it won’t necessarily become a reality in our lifetimes, unless and until we all determine to make our contribution to these, the changin’ times. There is much work to do. Let’s get to it.