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Treatment brings hope for ovarian cancer

Rating

4 Star

Treatment brings hope for ovarian cancer

Our Review Summary

In this story we learn of one of the most important recent advances in the treatment of ovarian cancer. In a randomized trial, intraperitoneal (IP) chemotherapy extended survival by 16 months compared to standard chemotherapy in women with stage 3 ovarian cancer. It is such an important finding that, in a rare move, the National Cancer Institute issued a statement calling for a change in clinical practice. This AP story adequately represents the prevalence and seriousness of ovarian cancer. The story adequately presents the alternative treatment option (intravenous chemotherapy) and the advantages and disadvantages of the new approach. The clinical evidence is presented accurately (although they did not mention that this was a randomized trial) and the benefits of treatment are presented for both intravenous and intraperitoneal chemotherapy. The story is especially strong in frankly portraying the harms and side effects of treatment, which were so bad that most women in the study were not able to complete the full course of treatment. The author does present a second opinion from an independent source. However, the story did not explain whether or not this treatment is novel, how widely available it is (and, by extension, how many practicitioners are experienced administering the treatment), and the costs or cost-effectiveness. Another major limitation of the story is that they did not attempt to place this treatment within the context of the overall picture of ovarian cancer. This study involved women with stage 3 ovarian cancer. What percentage of ovarian cases does that represent? What does that mean for women who are more/less advanced? The story leaves the reader thinking this treatment would be used for any woman with ovarian cancer, when in reality, we don’t know if it could help women who are more or less advanced than the study population. Presumably it would not be appropriate for early stage disease given the toxicity of the treatment, but what about later stages (which represent a large portion of ovarian cancer patients)?

Criteria

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

Satisfactory

The story quantifies the benefits in terms of

survival for both intravenous and intraperitoneal chemotherapy.

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

Satisfactory

The story gives us balanced information on harms, including the

very serious side effects which led to less than half the study population adhering to the full course of chemo.

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

Satisfactory

The story accurately represents the nature of the clinical evidence, that this was a controlled trial with 415

women. It should have been more clear that it was a randomized trial.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

The story accurately represents the prevalence of ovarian cancer and the

survival.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Satisfactory

The author does mention intravenous chemotherapy as the alternative and explains

the advantages and disadvantages of the new approach.

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

Not Satisfactory

Clearly this treatment is available in the U.S., but it’s not clear how widely available it is

and how many oncologists have experience using it.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not mention

if the treatment is new or not.

Total Score: 6 of 9 Satisfactory

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