Health News Review

Treatment for advanced ovarian tumors may lengthen survival, but questions still remain, despite the story’s emphasis on “promising” and “new hope.”

Our Review Summary

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.


Why This Matters

Recurring ovarian cancer is difficult to treat, but freezing tumors may only provide some benefit and this story didn’t offer appropriate caveats.


Criteria

Not Satisfactory

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

There was no discussion of costs in this article.

Not Satisfactory

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

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.

Not Satisfactory

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

There was no mention of the harms associated with this procedure.

Not Satisfactory

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Not Satisfactory

There was no mention of the limitations of the evidence or cautions about the interpretation of the data.

Satisfactory

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

The story did provide correct statistics regarding incidence and mortality rates.

Not Satisfactory

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Not Satisfactory

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.

Not Satisfactory

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

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.

Not Satisfactory

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

There was no mention in the article about availability of the treatment.  Are readers expected to know how widespread is its use?

Not Satisfactory

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Not Satisfactory

There was insufficient evidence to really understand if this is a novel procedure.

Not Applicable

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Not Applicable

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.

 

Total Score: 1 of 9 Satisfactory


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