ABC News story on personalized cancer care needs treatment itself

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This story is a marketing coup for a hospital, but its relevance to most cancer patients is unclear. This story failed on costs and on context, cheerleading for an approach that lacks evidence.

Andrew Holtz, former CNN-er, and past president of the Association of Health Care Journalists, was one of the reviewers of this piece. He recently joined the team of reviewers. I mention this because sometimes readers may wonder if the story reviewers have journalism – and, in this case, TV journalism experience. Between Andrew and me, we have more years (30+) of such experience than we may care to remember.

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Marilyn Mann

June 8, 2009 at 8:57 pm

A dear friend of mine has stage IV colon cancer. Recently, when I went to see her in the hospital, she had seen this story and was totally taken in by it. I hadn’t seen it, but her description made me suspicious. Apparently, they showed a couple of patients whose tumors had shrunk drastically, supposedly as a result of the genetic testing program. My friend was telling me that she wanted to find out more about it. In reality, there is no hope for her. I think it is irresponsible for ABC to do a story like that, literally raising false hopes in dying cancer patients like my friend.