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


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

Unique Germline Variants Found Among Black Prostate Cancer Patients

Through an exome sequencing study appearing in JCO Precision Oncology, researchers have found unique pathogenic or likely pathogenic variants within a cohort of Black prostate cancer patients.

Analysis of Endogenous Parvoviral Elements Found Within Animal Genomes

Researchers at PLOS Biology have examined the coevolution of endogenous parvoviral elements and animal genomes to gain insight into using the viruses as gene therapy vectors.

Saliva Testing Can Reveal Mosaic CNVs Important in Intellectual Disability

An Australian team has compared the yield of chromosomal microarray testing of both blood and saliva samples for syndromic intellectual disability in the European Journal of Human Genetics.

Octopus Brain Complexity Linked to MicroRNA Expansions

Investigators saw microRNA gene expansions coinciding with complex brains when they analyzed certain cephalopod transcriptomes, as they report in Science Advances.