Read Original Story

New drug shows promise in fighting breast cancer

Rating

2 Star

New drug shows promise in fighting breast cancer

Our Review Summary

This was a Phase 1 study – not even designed to prove efficacy.  Yet the headline talks about “promise” and the body text describes results in two out of 97 patients – only with breast cancer. It feels like a local story promoting local research without appropriate context.  Would the newspaper have reported this if it occurred in another city in another state?  No chance. So why does local research get promoted when it’s such an early stage that it would never be publicized if it came from anywhere else?

 

Why This Matters

One important part of the story was actually the interview with a breast cancer survivor who said “A lot of these things will shrink a tumor.  But what we look at as advocates is overall survival.”  And this research is a long way off from being able to show that.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Applicable

Not applicable.  Too early to discuss costs.

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

Not Satisfactory

Inadequate.  We are told that 2 of 97 had significant tumor shrinkage but we’re not told how much and we’re not told anything about what happened to the other 95 women.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story did state “Patients in the study experienced diarrhea, nausea, rash, fatigue decreased appetite, vomiting, itchiness and taste alteration.”
But we weren’t told how many of the 97 experienced these.  So the true scope of what was seen is not reported.

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

Not Satisfactory

There was no critical analysis of the quality of the evidence.  The story offered a scant – but inadequate description of the first two phases of drug trials.  But it didn’t describe the degree of tumor shrinkage (only saying “significant”), and didn’t describe what happened to the other 95 of the 97 women in the trial.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

No disease-mongering of advanced breast cancer.

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

Not Satisfactory

There was an important voice added from a breast cancer survivor.

But there was no independent expert perspective added.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

There was no comparison made between work on this drug and any other research in this active field of research.

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

Satisfactory

The experimental nature of the drug was clear in the story.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Not Satisfactory

The drug was described as “new” but we weren’t told how or why it’s new or how it acts differently than other drugs.  No context of other research in this field.

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

Satisfactory

It does not appear that the story relied solely on a news release.

Total Score: 3 of 9 Satisfactory

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