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This Week in the British Medical Journal: Mar 28, 2011

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In the British Medical Journal this week, Helen Mooney says that a new a report from the National Cancer Intelligence Network shows that rates for cancer surgery in England are much lower in middle-aged people than they are in younger people. Although the Network isn't surprised that there is a dropoff in surgery rates the older people get, what is surprising is that it is happening in people as young as 50, Mooney says. "The findings raise questions about the underlying reasons for cancer surgery variations and what could be done to reduce them," she adds. The report also showed cancer surgery rates varied by region in England.

Also in the British Medical Journal this week, Zosia Kmietowicz says doctors should be talking to women with a high risk for breast cancer about preventative treatments, like tamoxifen, in the same way a cardiologist would prescribe statins to reduce a patient's risk of heart disease. A panel of cancer specialists who met in Switzerland last year recently released a report in Lancet Oncology recommending that "all women whose risk of getting breast cancer over the next 10 years is 4 percent above the average should be offered preventive measures and closer monitoring," Kmietowicz says. Now the challenge for doctors will be to correctly quantify the risk, using various breast cancer biomarkers and screening methods, she adds.

The Scan

UK Pilot Study Suggests Digital Pathway May Expand BRCA Testing in Breast Cancer

A randomized pilot study in the Journal of Medical Genetics points to similar outcomes for breast cancer patients receiving germline BRCA testing through fully digital or partially digital testing pathways.

Survey Sees Genetic Literacy on the Rise, Though Further Education Needed

Survey participants appear to have higher genetic familiarity, knowledge, and skills compared to 2013, though 'room for improvement' remains, an AJHG paper finds.

Study Reveals Molecular, Clinical Features in Colorectal Cancer Cases Involving Multiple Primary Tumors

Researchers compare mismatch repair, microsatellite instability, and tumor mutation burden patterns in synchronous multiple- or single primary colorectal cancers.

FarGen Phase One Sequences Exomes of Nearly 500 From Faroe Islands

The analysis in the European Journal of Human Genetics finds few rare variants and limited geographic structure among Faroese individuals.