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This Week in the British Medical Journal: Jun 13, 2011

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In the British Medical Journal this week, German researchers led by Ingrid Mühlhauser report that using a brochure that contained evidence-based risk information about colorectal cancer screening led to more informed choices by participants. In this randomized, controlled study, the 1,577 participants either received the standard leaflet from the German colorectal cancer screening program or the evidence-based risk information brochure and two optional interactive Internet modules. "Evidence based risk information on colorectal cancer screening increased informed choices and improved knowledge, with little change in attitudes," the authors conclude. "The intervention did not affect the combination of actual and planned uptake of screening."

Cancer Research UK's Laura Woods and her colleagues present a simulation study of suspected errors in the UK's National Cancer Registry. Those errors include recording of the date of recurrence rather than the date of diagnosis and not adding long-term survivors to the registry. The researchers explored whether these errors could, in part, explain the lower cancer survival rates reported for the UK. However, Woods and her team found that "even implausibly extreme levels of the hypothesised errors in the cancer registry data could not explain the international differences in survival observed between the UK and other European countries."

In addition, a news item at BMJ says that women living in deprived areas of the UK are less likely to survive breast cancer than affluent women. A report from the National Cancer Intelligence Network finds that women in deprived areas are diagnosed at later stages of the disease. "Survival at five years among women living in the UK's most deprived areas who presented with symptoms of breast cancer was 68%, a fifth lower than survival among women in the least deprived areas (83%)," BMJ writes.

The Scan

Gene Co-Expression Database for Humans, Model Organisms Gets Update

GeneFriends has been updated to include gene and transcript co-expression networks based on additional RNA-seq data from human and mouse samples, a new paper in Nucleic Acids Research says.

New Study Investigates Genomics of Fanconi Anemia Repair Pathway in Cancer

A Rockefeller University team reports in Nature that FA repair deficiency leads to structural variants that can contribute to genomic instability.

Study Reveals Potential Sex-Specific Role for Noncoding RNA in Depression

A long, noncoding RNA called FEDORA appears to be a sex-specific regulator of major depressive disorder, affecting more women, researchers report in Science Advances.

New mRNA Vaccines Offer Hope for Fighting Malaria

A George Washington University-led team has developed mRNA vaccines for malaria that appear to provide protection in mice, as they report in NPJ Vaccines.