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This Week in BMC Cancer: Mar 8, 2011

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In BMC Cancer this week, an international team of researchers discuss the uncertainties of early cancer detection results with a model-based interpretation of the Mayo Lung Project. The MLP, a trial of lung cancer screening conducted from 1971 to 1986, showed an increase in lung cancer survival times, but no reduction in mortality, the researchers write. Using a micro-simulation model, the team explored the "possible influence of screening sensitivity, systematic error, over-diagnosis and population heterogeneity," and found that calibrating population heterogeneity improved the model's predictability, whereas calibrating screening sensitivity did not. "Our conclusion is that the hypothesized imperfection in screening sensitivity, systematic error, and over-diagnosis do not in themselves explain the observed trial results," the team writes.

Also in BMC Cancer this week, researchers in Australia aim to identify critical genes involved in the pathogenesis of non-small-cell lung cancer in order to identify novel targets to treat the disease. Performing transcriptional and genomic profiling on 69 resected non-small-cell lung cancer specimens, the team found "specific patterns of genetic alteration associated with adenocarcinoma vs. squamous differentiation" as well as a mutation in TP53 and a KRAS mutation. "These results may provide the first steps in identifying new predictive biomarkers and targets for novel therapies, thus improving outcomes for patients with this deadly disease," the team adds.

And finally in BMC Cancer this week, researchers in China study the association between the consumption of diet folate and the prognosis of patients with esophageal squamous cell carcinoma. More than 120 patients with esophageal squamous cell carcinoma who had undergone esophagectomy were recruited, and the effects of diet folate, aberrant DNA methylation of selected genes and methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase C677T genetic polymorphisms were observed, the authors write. The analysis shows an inverse association between diet foalte intake and the risk of death after esophagectomy. "Our research indicated that diet folate intake may have benefits on the prognosis of ESCC after esophagectomy," the researchers write. "From a practical viewpoint, the findings of our study help to establish practical intervention and surveillance strategies for managements of ESCC patients and can finally decrease the disease burden."