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Editorial
July 28, 2004

Decision Aids From Genetics to Treatment of Breast CancerLong-term Clinical Utility or Temporary Solution?

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Clinical Cancer Genetics Program, Human Cancer Genetics Program, Comprehensive Cancer Center, Division of Human Genetics, Department of Internal Medicine, Ohio State University, Columbus (Dr Eng); and Cancer Research UK Human Cancer Genetics Research Group, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England (Dr Eng); Department of Cancer Biology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Department of Surgery, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass (Dr Iglehart).

JAMA. 2004;292(4):496-498. doi:10.1001/jama.292.4.496

Medical science is a victim of its own success. Clinical and translational investigation has resulted in a bounty of relevant and specialized knowledge that is adopted into routine clinical use. While this 21st-century science is hurtling quickly into the clinical arena, the relative growth of clinicians in some specialized areas, who are facile in using 21st-century scientific knowledge to practice 21st-century medicine, has not increased at a rate to keep pace with that of recent scientific advances. Compounded with the growing trend of viewing patients as partners in medical decision making, necessitating educating and helping patients with choices in a field that changes weekly, the medical community is facing a crisis. Two articles published in this issue of JAMA try to address this problem by exploring the utility and limitations of patient decision aids in breast cancer genetic risk assessment1 and breast cancer surgery.2

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