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Drug may cut menopause after breast cancer chemo

Rating

3 Star

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Drug may cut menopause after breast cancer chemo

Our Review Summary

This brief article focuses on a treatment that attempts to preserve fertility for  young (under 40) breast cancer survivors.  It does a good job of describing the potential benefits but leaves gaps in explaining some of the potential limitations and side effects, in particular the failure to mention the potential adverse affects on disease outcome.

 

Why This Matters

Young breast cancer survivors can be devastated by the possibility that treating their cancer may leave them unable to bear children.  It is critical that they have full information about the impact of treatment  approaches on their fertility and on their cancer. The editorial is especially useful for practicing physicians partnering with their patients around cancer treatment and fertility issues.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

Costs of the treatment are not mentioned in the article; rather, the costliness of an alternative, storing eggs prior to treatment, is emphasized.

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

Satisfactory

The primary benefit from the described approach to loss of fertility in women of child-bearing age with early-stage breast cancer was described as a lowered rate of early menopause.  The article did an excellent job of putting this in perspective by including the editorial statement cautioning the reader to not equate resumption of menstrual cycles with preserved fertility.

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

Not Satisfactory

The largest gap in this story is its failure to mention potential harms.  In particular, it fails to mention the concern about potential adverse effects on disease outcome, a concern clearly stated in the editorial and in the original article.

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

Satisfactory

If longer, this article could have benefited from added detail: long-term outcome data is not available; perhaps most importantly, there is no mention of potential adverse effects on disease outcome. The article headline could have been improved if it included the quality of caution so clearly stated in the last paragraph.  The weight of the editorial statement, with a good deal of detail in a few sentences, will be highly useful to readers.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

This story is free of disease-mongering and clearly states the importance of the issue for a specific population,  younger breast cancer patients.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story cited an editorial that accompanied the journal article.  However, there was no indication of potential conflicts or lack of conflicts of interest, despite disclosures stated in the journal article.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Satisfactory

The article did a satisfactory job of mentioning one major alternative to the reviewed procedure.

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

Not Satisfactory

There is no statement in the article as to availability of the treatment, although the information is correctly identified as arising from a “phase three study.” But are readers really supposed to know what a Phase Three study means?  Want to do a reader poll to test how many do?

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Not Satisfactory

The article describes the study as new but fails to indicate whether or not the drug and procedure are new. And as the editorial points out, there are 5 other studies testing this so there is more data out there and it appears to be a bit contradictory.

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

Satisfactory

The article did an adequate job of citing the original study and the associated editorial but omitted some significant detail needed to help the reader reach a clear understanding. .

Total Score: 5 of 10 Satisfactory

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