This story did a good job describing the results of a recently published study which continues to follow a large group of men in Sweden who either had immediate surgery to remove their prostate or waited until they had evidence of that their prostate cancer progressed before undergoing treatment.
Strong caveat in the fourth sentence.
The story included information about how prostate cancer is commonly screened for in the US and that this differs from the approach used with the men in the study and that this could influence the outcomes.
Helping men understand when there may be and when there may not be benefit from aggressive immediate treatment of prostate cancer is valuable for those diagnosed with early stage disease.
There was no information about the respective financial costs of the treatments for prostate cancer discussed. Costs would include treating the double digit rates of incontinence and erectile dysfunction in these younger men who do have surgery. The surgery may help them live longer, but many, especially since younger at time of surgery, live decades with these potential harms and folllowup costs of the surgical choice. This should get at least a line in such stories.
The story did a good job of identifying those men (i.e. those younger than 65 at the time of symptomatic prostate cancer ) who reduced their chance of dying by having surgery to remove their prostate. Good use of absolute numbers.
The story provided readers with insight that for men younger than 65 years of age at the time of diagnosis, there was a significantly greater chance of dying in the men who did not have immediate surgery to remove their prostate gland. The story also described that a substantial proportion of men who did have surgery to remove their prostate gland experienced sexual and/or urinary problems. Best job of the three stories we reviewed in quantifying harms.
The story did a fine job providing information about where the study reported on had been published, the number of men and the length of time they had been studied, their age, the two treatments the men were randomly assigned to, as well as background information on the first indication that the men had prostate cancer.
The story did not engage in overt disease mongering.
The story included quotes from the clinician who wrote the editorial which accompanied the study reported on as well as another clinician without direct ties to the study detailed in the story.
The story provided some of the comparative information from the study reported on about surgery to remove the prostate and waiting to see if prostate cancer would progress before undergoing active treatment. In addition, the story included a list of the common utilized approaches to active treatment of prostate cancer.
The story was clear about the fact that the overwhelming majority of men in the study had had their prostate cancer first detected because of symptoms which is means that they were in a different place in the prostate cancer timeline than men whose first inkling about prostate cancer is that they have an elevated PSA level in their blood. So it describes practices in Europe many years ago which are different than current care in the US.
The story was clear the the men in the study reported on had been part of the investigation which started in 1989.
The story did not rely on a press release.