Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Another retraction for potential prostate cancer test from Hopkins

with 4 comments

Earlier this year, we reported on the case of Robert Getzenberg of Johns Hopkins, who retracted a 2007 paper in Urology that was “at the center of two 2009 lawsuits brought by a company that funded the work.”

Getzenberg has now retracted a related paper,  “Analysis of a serum test for prostate cancer that detects a second epitope of EPCA-2,” published in The Prostate in 2009 and cited nine times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

The notice in The Prostate goes further than the one in Urology, using the word “falsification:”

The following article from The Prostate, ‘Analysis of a Serum Test for Prostate Cancer That Detects a Second Epitope of EPCA-2’ by Eddy S. Leman, Ahmed Magheli, Grant W. Cannon, Leslie Mangold, Alan W. Partin, and Robert H. Getzenberg, Published online 5 May 2009 in Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com), and in Volume 69, pp. 1188–1194, has been retracted at the request of the authors, and by agreement between the authors, the journal Editor-in-Chief, John T. Isaacs, and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. As the authors re-reviewed the data presented in the article, they identified differences between some of the plate reader values and those that were reported in the article. For some of the data the values were indeed from the plate reader data, whereas the source of other values is not easily apparent. Therefore, the article may contain data falsification. Furthermore, the values were not blanked. Taken together, the inconsistencies in the data collection and recordation warrant retraction of the article. The authors sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this might cause.

An aside: We hadn’t seen the word “recordation” used in science before, but apparently NASA has used it. From an MSNBC.com story earlier this year:

“Recordation is a term generally used in the context of Historic American Building Surveys or Historic American Engineering Records,” NASA’s federal preservation officer Jennifer Groman told collectSpace in an e-mail. “We at NASA have adopted the term for a broader purpose to cover the documentation efforts we are conducting as part of a memorandum of agreement with several state historic preservation officers and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation for our Section 106 compliance under the National Historic Preservation Act.”

Comments
  • David Hardman July 23, 2012 at 8:20 am

    I am suprised that this retraction has not generated any comments. It does have clinicalrelevance.

    “Tests” to detect prostate cancer are thought to be problematic.

    For example, the latest (10th edition, 2010) of the Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine, page 647, has this to say about Prostatic Specific Antigen (PSA), which has been used as the standard test.

    “The test is not very accurate, and we cannot say that those having the test will live longer-even if they turn out to have prostate cancer. Most men with prostate cancer die from an unrelated cause.”

    Now we find that another test for prostate cancer, EPCA-2, turns out to be unreliable.

    The good thing is that we know it is unreliable otherwise people would be unnecessarily subject to the test.

    • Chip_Molly July 24, 2012 at 5:36 pm

      There are really two issues at stake here:

      1. All diagnostic tests have problems with sensivity and specificity when used as a screening tool. The issues have always revolved around cost-effectiveness of population screening ie. dollars spent preventing vs. dollars spent treating.

      2. The data falsification.

  • David Hardman July 23, 2012 at 8:47 am

    For anybody interested a very recent review in prostate cancer screening. It may not lead to more retractions, but may lead to fewer unnecessary tests.

    http://jco.ascopubs.org/content/30/21/2581.full

  • David Hardman July 28, 2012 at 11:48 pm

    “The data falsification.”

    When I read in the retraction notice;

    “As the authors re-reviewed the data presented in the article, they identified differences between some of the plate reader values and those that were reported in the article. For some of the data the values were indeed from the plate reader data, whereas the source of other values is not easily apparent. Therefore, the article may contain data falsification. Furthermore, the values were not blanked.”

    several questions spring to mind:-

    1. Didn’t the editors review the data?
    2. How much of the data were from the plate readers, how much of the data was from sources not easily apparent?
    3. What was the source of the other values?
    4. Why can’t the readers of the journal Prostate get to see primary data?

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