1 5/11/2017

Why we should all be wary when PR machines promote phase 2 studies

These two graphs illustrate why people–including journalists–should view the results of phase 2 studies with abundant caution (click to enlarge): These charts are showing, on the left, the performance of an experimental cancer drug called selumetinib in a phase 2 trial for a certain type of lung cancer. The phase 3 trial results are on the right. As […]


New thyroid guidelines demonstrate why we need an independent USPSTF

The incidence of thyroid cancer has increased nearly 5 percent per year over the past decade, but the mortality from thyroid cancer has barely budged for nearly 40 years. This suggests that identifying more cases of thyroid cancer hasn’t improved the health of the American public, an impression confirmed yesterday in new guidelines issued by the […]

7 5/9/2017

Radiology society’s PR message about untreated breast cancer: Sound evidence or scare-mongering?

The American College of Radiology recently issued a fairly terse 183-word news release on a new study published in its journal on the “natural history of untreated screen-detected breast cancer.” The report is subtitled “An argument against delayed screening or increasing the interval between screening” and is based on a small survey of Society of […]

2 5/8/2017

“Less is more” theme from breast cancer conference attracts little mainstream news coverage

The last weekend in April the American Society of Breast Surgeons held their 18th Annual Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada. The first day of the conference I wrote a blog post simply looking ahead and wondering how reporters would cover the event. What might emerge as a hot topic? Or, perhaps, be neglected? The post-conference […]


PODCAST: Why would a 23-year-old graduate student choose to live in a nursing home?

About 6 percent of older Americans live in nursing homes. However, nearly half of us over the age of 65 will spend some time in a nursing home at some point in our life. News stories about nursing homes and the elderly most commonly address themes such as abuse and neglect, delivery of medical care, […]


The problem with the ‘happy mom = less colicky baby’ headlines

As if having a newborn wasn’t challenging enough, some news headlines last week erroneously implied that research now shows moms better be happy–or be in happy relationships–or they’ll face hours on end of a crying baby: HealthDay: Happy Mom Means Less Colicky Baby CafeMom: How Your Unhappy Relationship Might Be Making Your Baby Miserable New York Magazine: […]

4 5/2/2017

VIDEO: Does diet soda = dementia? A second look at the study uncovers key statistical shortcomings

Just over a week ago I wrote about how reporters covering a recent observational study — which reported that drinking at least one artificially sweetened beverage daily was associated with an increased risk of developing stroke or dementia — often neglected three key points. Those points were: relative risk was reported much more often than absolute risk that association does […]

10 5/1/2017

Patients are not plane crash victims and hospitals are not plummeting jetliners

When advocates want to emphasize the human impact of a deadly disease or a treatment that might cure it, they sometimes draw an analogy to jumbo jets falling out of the sky. It happened recently in this NPR story about a potential new treatment for sepsis, which the story says kills about 300,000 people each […]


Five-star frogs, false hopes and … I guess … ennui.

You can get a good manure spreader for anywhere between $100 and $10,000 dollars. Don’t believe me? Then I”ll let the Iowa Craigslist be my definitive source . Made you click didn’t I? Keep in mind, regardless of how much you spend, you will still be spreading the same thing. It’s a good lesson for all of us, […]


A before & after look at this weekend’s breast cancer conference: How will reporters cover it? (Part One)

This weekend over 1,600 surgeons will be in Las Vegas for the 18th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Breast Surgeons. Media coverage of this conference is usually substantial for several reasons; not the least of which is that breast cancer is second only to skin cancer as the most commonly diagnosed cancer in American women. […]


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