In brief: Cancer now leading contributor to death in diabetes; New treatment for gliobastoma; Palliative care pain management education

11 Feb 2021

Cancer deaths overtakes vascular disease in people with diabetes

Large declines in vascular disease death rates among people with diabetes have led to cancer being the leading contributor to the gap in death rates between those with and without diabetes, according to UK research.

Between 2001 and 2018 all-cause mortality rates declined by 32% in men and 31% in women with diagnosed diabetes. Over the same period, the proportion of deaths due to vascular diseases declined from 44% to 24% in individuals with diabetes while deaths due to cancer increased from 22% to 28%.

Writing in Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, the researchers said the decline in vascular deaths probably reflected improvements in risk factors such as smoking, hypertension and lipids, as well as targeting of prevention measures in individuals with diabetes. The findings suggested a need to broaden prevention strategies in diabetes to account  for the others causes of death, especially for specific cancers, liver diseases, and dementia, they said

New drug for glioblastoma starts humans trials in SA

Human clinical trials for a new drug treatment for glioblastoma are set to begin in Adelaide with other trial centres around the country soon to follow.

The experimental drug, auceliciclib, discovered by researchers from the University of South Australia, targets cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) enzymes, which play a central role in most tumours. 

The therapy is more targeted, has lower toxicity and appears to cross the blood-brain barrier more effectively than other drugs in development, says Professor Shudong Wang, Head of Drug Discovery and Development at UniSA.

If auceliciclib proves effective in human clinical trials, it will also be an important breakthrough for other breast and lung cancers which metastasise into the brain, she says.

PCA submission on cancer pain prescribing education

Palliative Care Australia is urging the government to allocate $2 million over the next three years to establish more specialised training for health professionals in evidence-based use of opioids in palliative care settings.

In its pre-budget submission to the federal government, the national organisation for palliative care argues for existing funds, made available under the National Strategic Action Plan for Pain Management, to be supplemented to include an education an program for health professionals aligned with the updated cancer pain and palliative care guidelines.

It says such a program would ‘ensure medical practitioners are enabled to prescribe, in a timely manner, appropriate opioids for pain and breathlessness management for those with palliative care needs and feel confident in their appropriate use and specialist support where necessary.’

It’s one of several initiatives proposed by the organisation to boost investment in palliative care – an additional $363 million per year in funding composed of $240 million per year in community-based settings, $50 million per year in hospitals and $75 million per year in residential aged care, has been proposed.

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