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.