Informative article by News Medical Life Science on prostate cancer and genetic screening lacks an outside perspective
This article, published in News Medical Life Sciences and reviewed by Emily Henderson, covers a new study from the Institute of Cancer Research and the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust. The study was performed in conjunction with GPs to genetically screen over 300 Caucasian males between the ages of 55-59 for prostate cancer. This screening involved collecting saliva samples from the participants and screening for over 130 genetic variations associated with increased risk of prostate cancer development. The combined effects of the genetic variants were calculated for each participant and those in the top 10% of risk of cancer were selected for further screening and MRI scans. Out of the 26 men selected, 18 underwent MRI scanning and seven were found to have manageable forms of prostate cancer, indicating the potential of this screening process to successfully identify undiagnosed prostate cancer in larger sample sizes.
This article contains no perspectives from individuals outside those involved in the study, which may raise questions about the credibility of the information presented. Although the news article does not blow the claims of the study out of proportion and maintains that this screening is still at a stage where it presents potential to be effective on a larger scale, its conclusions should still be taken with a grain of salt. Further, no contact information is available for readers to make inquiries about the research, which presents potential barriers to their understanding and appreciation of the presented information.
Published May of 2020 in News Medical Life Sciences, Emily Henderson reviews findings on a pilot study that investigates how genetic screening can lead to earlier detection and diagnosis of prostate cancer. This study was the first in the UK to examine genetic screening as a prostate cancer diagnostic tool for the general population and relies on how specific DNA patterns—or “Barcodes”—are associated with increased risk. If a screened individual is found to have a high-risk barcode, a biopsy that can be used to diagnose cancer would be warranted and conducted earlier.
Some positive aspects of the review are the neutrality, objectiveness and accurate portrayal of the scientific method. Henderson describes the background information, rationales, results, and conclusions relating to the study in a clear and concise manner that the educated reader can understand. I also enjoyed how the review included a quote from patient Remy Smits. The inclusion of a patient’s point of view provides real life application of the study’s results.
One major drawback that reduces the quality of the review is the lack of outside sources. No references from outside of the study are used and perspectives can only come from researchers and patients that were involved in the study. The other major drawback to this review is that the original research is not explicitly referenced and a link to the pilot study is not provided; readers are now forced to verify claims independently. In addition, it is particularly hard to independently verify claims as the original study is not easily accessible/publicly available.
The views expressed by the reviewers for this article are not endorsed or shared by SciFeye. The interpretation of the review of the news story using the SciFeye Index was done independently by two SciFeye reviewers. We encourage you to conduct your own evaluation of the accuracy and quality of the news story using the Index.