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This Week in the British Medical Journal: Jul 7, 2011

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In the British Medical Journal this week, UK researchers present a clinical review of endometrial cancer, the most common gynecological cancer in most developed nations. The incidence of endometrial cancer is increasing in postmenopausal women, the authors write, and it is the fourth most common cancer in women after breast, lung, and colorectal cancers. Curing it is possible, and the overall five-year survival rate is currently around 80 percent for all stages of the disease. Research for more efficient methods of treatment is ongoing, the authors write. The debate over the diagnostic and therapeutic value of pelvic lymphadenectomy could be resolved by further randomized trials, and the Gynecological Oncology Group has created a large prospective biospecimen bank with the goal of aiding scientists in their search for cancer biomarkers. "Laparoscopic and robot assisted laparoscopic surgery may be increasingly used in gynecological oncology surgery because of early encouraging results that show several advantages over open surgery," the team adds. "Results of a randomized controlled trial of laparoscopic surgery versus open surgery in endometrial cancer are awaited."

Also in the British Medical Journal this week, an international team of researchers publishes a rebuttal to an editorial on cancer survival statistics that appeared in the Journal last August. In that editorial, the University of Oxford's Valerie Beral and Richard Peto argued that cancer survival statistics for the UK are "misleading" and "make survival look worse than it is." In their rebuttal, Coleman et al. write that the editorial is "unfounded, untenable, and inconsistent," and that Beral and Peto's assertion that the statistics are misleading is "pure conjecture" with no evidence to back it up. Alleged errors made by the UK's national cancer registry that Beral and Peto say make the statistics look bad, even in extreme amounts, cannot account for the difference in survival numbers between the UK and Sweden, which has better numbers, the authors write. And, they add, one of the editorial's authors published survival estimates for England in 1998 using the same numbers derided in the editorial. Beral and Peto respond, saying they stand by their original editorial.

The Scan

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J&J CSO to Step Down

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Science Papers Present Proteo-Genomic Map of Human Health, Brain Tumor Target, Tool to Infer CNVs

In Science this week: gene-protein-disease map, epigenomic and transcriptomic approach highlights potential therapeutic target for gliomas, and more