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Gene found that may predict lung cancer in smokers


3 Star

Gene found that may predict lung cancer in smokers

Our Review Summary

The story didn’t quantify any of the results from the study.

At least the story included an important perspective from one of the researchers:  “Whether it is going to save millions of people, who knows?”  

As we noted in our review of the AP story on the same study, we wish this story had reflected on some of the context provided in a recent Journal of the National Cancer Institute article, "Gene Expression–Based Prognostic Signatures in Lung Cancer: Ready for Clinical Use?


Why This Matters

Any early diagnostic tests for lung cancer that worked and were available would have public health importance.  But these findings reported on are very preliminary – and it’s way too early to say that a supplement "appears to halt the precancerous changes" after a trial in just a few people – a low number the story didn’t report.


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Applicable

This test is not yet available, so a discussion of its cost is perhaps not warranted. The story states that myo-inositol is “cheap,” but that’s a relative term.  Nonetheless, because of the early stage of the research, we’ll rule this not applicable.

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

Not Satisfactory

This story did not provide any data to help readers determine how this test could be clinically useful or how well myo-inositol may work for preventing lung cancer. No quantified results were provided.

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

Not Satisfactory

Unfortunately, the story does not mention harms or lack thereof associated with myo-inositol. And are there any harms from collecting cells from the windpipe with a brush? The story didn’t address this question.

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

Not Satisfactory

There was no discussion of the study methods, nor was there information about the participants, including their age, how much they smoked, and for how long.  Samples from only 16 individuals were used to determine the efficacy of myo-inositol, an important fact that should have been mentioned.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


This story did not exaggerate the seriousness or prevalence of lung cancer in smokers.

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

Not Satisfactory

No independent experts were interviewed for this story. Furthermore, the story failed to mention that Dr. Spira, one of the study’s authors, is the founder of Allegro Diagnostics and currently sits on the Board of Directors and serves as a consultant. The story only says he is "working with" the company. What does that mean?

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

The story did not mention alternative approaches for detecting early stages of lung cancer, including chest x-rays or CT scan screening. 


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


This genetic test is not yet available, but the story could have been clearer on that point. The story suggests there is no question regarding the availability of myo-inositol; however, more information on the specific formulation used in the study, as well as the dosage would have been useful.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


The story indicates that PI3K had "long been suspected in lung cancer."

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


This piece did not rely solely on a news release.

Total Score: 4 of 9 Satisfactory


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