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Read Original Story

Experimental shot shows promise against cancer

Rating

3 Star

Experimental shot shows promise against cancer

Our Review Summary

This story reports on a wide range of new cancer treatments that fall under the general category of immunotherapy. These therapies use the body’s own immune system to selectively attack cancer cells. The concept of immunotherapy is not a new one, but it is a growing research area that has yet to live up to its hype. This story attempts to outline the controversies surrounding this field, but is flawed in several ways.

The story claims that many immunotherapies are almost ready to go up for FDA approval, but this is not sufficient information on availability. The story should have made it clear that these therapies are currently only available through clinical trials. Furthermore, the story should have cautioned the reader that these therapies would only be appropriate after first-line treatments have failed (except in certain rare cases).

Although the story mentions several clinical trials, the story does not give the reader enough information on the strength of the available evidence from any of the trials. Furthermore, the story does not quantify the benefits of immunotherapy. The story also does not mention costs, which are likely to be very high.

The story does provide some balance in perspective by quoting two MD Anderson researchers as well as a scientist at the NCI, who cautions the reader about “making claims before the real data’s in.”

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not mention costs, which are likely to be very high.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story does not quantify the benefits of immunotherapy.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story claims that “immunotherapy’s great appeal is its nontoxicity” and that a patient has had no side effects. This is not enough information on the harms of treatment.

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

Not Satisfactory

Although the story mentions several clinical trials, the story does not give the reader enough information on the strength of the available evidence from any of the trials.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

The story does not engage in disease mongering.

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

Satisfactory

The story quotes two MD Anderson researchers as well as a scientist at the NCI, who provides much needed balance at the end of the story.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Satisfactory

The story mentions chemotherapy and radiation as alternatives.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story claims that many immunotherapies are almost ready to go up for FDA approval. This is not sufficient information on availability. The story should have made it clear that these therapies are currently only available through clinical trials. Furthermore, the story should have cautioned the reader that these therapies would only be appropriate after first-line treatments have failed (except in certain rare cases).

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The story clearly states that the idea of immunotherapy has been around for a long time but that recently the field has been burgeoning with new approaches.

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

Not Applicable

There is no way to know whether the story relied on a press release as the sole source of information.

Total Score: 4 of 9 Satisfactory

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