Thursday, November 25, 2010

Breast cancer screening for women in their forties

Breast cancer screening for women in their forties has become a hot topic recently because some scientists have argued that the harms outweigh the benefits. A recent article in the journal Science (Marshall, Brawling over mammography, 2010) discusses this issue and presents some scientist's points against screening.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Google Alerts - A scientist's unsung friend

For a while now I have been experimenting with using Google Alerts as a tool to help me in research. For those who don’t know, Google Alerts is a simple application that will e-mail you whenever it finds a new page on the internet containing the search words that you provide.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Preoperative MRI can be used without increasing mastectomy rates

RSNA (Radiologists' Society of North America) holds a gigantic radiologists conference every year in Chicago. This year's conference starts one week from today and apparently one of the presentations on the first day will be from Fabio Chiesa and colleagues from the University of Milan's School of Medicine. Apparently they will present data from 2003 to 2008 showing that preoperative MRI examinations of the breast do not necessarily cause increases in mastectomy rates.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Brief: MRI lowers the mortality of women at high risk for breast cancer

This is very exciting news. The New York Times has just begun reporting on a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Dutch researchers monitored a group of over 2,000 women at high-risk for breast cancer with magnetic resonance imaging technology (MRI). After 6 years of follow up only 4 of the very high risk patients (BRCA mutation carriers, 50-85% lifetime risk) died and 100% of the moderately high risk patients (15-50% lifetime risk) survived. The author's compare their impressive results with other studies which showed that 5 year survival without MRI based detection yields a 74% survival rate.

Statistical significance is not the same as significance

There is a lot of confusion among scientists regarding the appropriate use of statistics. A recent short letter on statistics published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) helps illustrate this problem. CMAJ does not take out a copyright on the letters so we're reproducing it here, although you can access it directly from their website.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The chronic food crisis

The chronic food crisis has been the subject of numerous articles on Spotlight-on-Science.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Humorous Aside: The nature of scientific mistakes

Mistakes are part of the nature of scientific research.

Humorous Aside: The changing face of peer-reviewed publications

The process of getting one's research published has changed dramatically over the years. When Einstein was a young man he didn't have a PhD and was working in a patent office. He was brilliant, and managed to get multiple research papers published in Physics journals even though he didn’t have a PhD nor an academic appointment. He was the ultimate outsider.