Treatment for advanced ovarian tumors may lengthen survival, but questions still remain, despite the story’s emphasis on “promising” and “new hope.”
This story reported on a procedure to freeze recurrent ovarian cancer tumors which showed improvements in survival rates. However, the story doesn’t say what the actual survival rate was. A similar story by Medscape did a much better job of describing cryoablation as a procedure which is currently being used in palliation of symptoms and not meant as a curative treatment of the tumors.
It’s very difficult for any journalist to do a complete job reporting on a complex topic in less than 300 words. The odds were stacked against this one given those limitations.
Recurring ovarian cancer is difficult to treat, but freezing tumors may only provide some benefit and this story didn’t offer appropriate caveats.
There was no discussion of costs in this article.
There was mention of the 5-year survival rate; however, the story did not specify what that survival rate was. This is extremely important since the 5-year survival rate for ovarian cancer differs widely by stage of the cancer. A bigger problem was the lack of a control group and the use of historical controls – never mentioned in the story.
There was no mention of the harms associated with this procedure.
There was no mention of the limitations of the evidence or cautions about the interpretation of the data.
The story did provide correct statistics regarding incidence and mortality rates.
They only included quotes from the medical resident at Wayne State University and actually did not make clear whether that resident was involved in the study. Weak sourcing.
The story did not really mention alternatives except to state surgery and chemotherapy, but from the article it appeared that cryoablation was done after both of these treatment options were used.
There was no mention in the article about availability of the treatment. Are readers expected to know how widespread is its use?
There was insufficient evidence to really understand if this is a novel procedure.
We can’t be sure of the extent to which this story may have been based on a press release. We do know there were no independent perspectives.