Bangor Academics create impact with BMJ papers

A paper co-authored by a Bangor academic has made the front cover of the prestigious British Medical Journal while another research re-evaluation published by the BMJ, in the same month, received international media attention.

Ovarian Cancer

The front-cover paper (BMJ 2015; 351 :h4443 :Published 01 September 2015) co-authored by Prof Richard Neal of the North Wales Centre for Primary Care Research at the School of Healthcare Sciences provided a clinical review of the challenges in diagnosing ovarian cancer for GPs. With ovarian cancer the seventh most common cancer in women worldwide, the paper summarised the presenting features, diagnostic tests, risk factors, and groups at high risk of ovarian cancer.

Many of the presenting symptoms are common, and can be shared with a range of other conditions, presenting a diagnostic dilemma for doctors. Even though there were 239,000 new cases diagnosed worldwide in 2012, an average UK general practitioner is likely to see one woman with ovarian cancer once every 3-5 year.

The low survival rate in the UK has been recognised in the International Cancer Benchmarking Partnership and has been attributed at least partly to less timely diagnosis. The article summarises the presenting features, diagnostic tests, risk factors, and groups at high risk of ovarian cancer and is aimed at primary care practitioners and hospital doctors in other specialties.

Re-evaluating a renowned drug trial

Dr Joanna Le Noury and Professor David Healy of the School of Medical Sciences have been involved in research which has re-evaluated a renowned drug trial (Study 329), considered by many to have been flawed.

They were members of an international team of researchers who re-analysed data concerning the effectiveness of a drug which has been used to treat serious depression in adolescents. The group’s results have been widely reported in America, Canada, France and the UK.

According to the research paper in the BMJ, (BMJ 2015;351:h4320) the results contradicted original research findings which portrayed paroxetine as an effective and safe treatment for children and adolescents with major depression.

The Restoring Invisible and Abandoned Trials (RIAT) Team used previously confidential trial documents to reanalyse the original data and found that neither Paroxetine nor high dose imipramine was more effective that placebo in the treatment of major depression in adolescents.

Although few doctors currently prescribe paroxetine (sold as Seroxat in the UK and Paxil in the US), the re-evaluation showed that the drug was not as efficient as had been previously claimed.

Publication date: 29 September 2015