The standard treatment for endometrial cancer is hysterectomy, or surgical removal of the uterus. However, some women, including younger women who wish to preserve their fertility, may prefer non-surgical alternatives. A study published in the Annals of Oncology suggests that younger women (under age 40) with pre-cancerous lesions (known as hyperplasia) or early-stage cancer, may be able to safely treat their condition with the progestin IUD (brand name Mirena).
This story does a good job reporting on the new study and its implications. It gives the reader enough relevant information to evaluate the strength of the new study and the information that it may add to clinical practice. It provides important caveats for interpreting the results, such as the small size of the study and preliminary results. It quotes independent experts who provide context for the information.
The story could have been improved by mentioning the cost of the IUD and mentioning some potential harms of the treatment.
Endometrial cancer is rare in women under 40. However, for these women, who may wish to preserve their childbearing ability, there have been few alternatives to hysterectomy.
The story does not mention the costs of the IUD or implantation.
The story adequately quantifies the benefits of treatment.
Although the progestin IUD is well tolerated and there were no adverse events in the study, the story makes no mention of any potential harms. The adverse effect outcome measure reported in the study was effects or complications severe enough to suspend treatment. The concurrent GnRH analog treatment does have side effects (temporary menopausal symptoms) that may be important to some women, while not warranting suspension of treatment.
The story does a good job of describing the current study so that the reader can evaluate for themselves how persuasive the results are.
The story does not engage in disease mongering. The story mentions that only 5% of cases of endometrial cancer occur in women under 40, and is careful to emphasize that this study was performed in a ‘select group of patients’.
The story quotes one independent expert who provides valuable perspective. We are curious, though, why/how this story quotes the same U.S. expert who comments in the competing HealthDay story.
The story mentions hysterectomy as the primary alternative.
Progestin IUD is clearly available.
Although the progestin IUD is not new, using it to treat endometrial cancer is a relatively new idea.
Because the story quotes one expert who is not affiliated with the study, the reader can assume that the story does not rely on a press release as the sole source of information.