Read Original Story

Simple Test May Spot Early Lung Cancer


2 Star

Simple Test May Spot Early Lung Cancer

Our Review Summary

This story is based upon new research that examines genes and biochemical pathways associated with lung cancer in smokers with and without lung cancer.  This would allow lung cancer to be detected in its early, more treatable stages or before it developed.  

Hyperbolic writing and choice of quotes resulted in phrases such as: 

  • "may have found an easy way"
  • "a way to reverse the start of the deadly disease with a readily available, over-the-counter drug"
  • "maybe one day screening could be done using an even simpler…test"

However, the results are very preliminary, particularly those pertaining to reversal of carcinogenesis by inositol – which was tested in only a few people, something the story didn’t explain.


Why This Matters

This is an important area of research but this story felt like cheerleading more than an analytical exploration of the evidence.


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Applicable

Not applicable because of the early stage of research.

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

Not Satisfactory

Didn’t give any numbers on how well the test performed.  And didn’t explain that inositol was tested in just a few people.  Very weak in this area.

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

Not Satisfactory

No potential harms are discussed. Bronchoscopy can be risky, especially in those with already compromised lung function such as smokers.

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

Not Satisfactory

There is no mention of the magnitude of effect, number of subjects studied, or other details that shed light on the quality of evidence. Very weak in this area.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


No overt disease mongering about lung cancer.

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


Barely satisfactory.  One independent expert quoted – but one whose quote offered no analysis.  Financial interest of the lead investigator is mentioned. 

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

Not only was the other genetic signature research not mentioned, there was no discussion of other means of detecting early lung cancer such as chest CT – albeit controversial.

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

Not Satisfactory

The opening line of the article — "Researchers may have found an easy way to detect lung cancer in its early or even pre-cancerous
stages, as well as a way to reverse the start of the deadly disease with a readily available, over-the-counter drug" – overstates the evidence for inositol’s effectiveness, and implies that it is available in a form that could reverse the development of lung cancer. 

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Not Satisfactory

Didn’t put this new research into the context of any of the other lung cancer genetic expression research underway, so this story provides no context on the true novelty of this approach.

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


One independent expert quoted, so apparently did not rely on a news release.

Total Score: 3 of 9 Satisfactory


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