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Read Original Story

Abortion pill might help battle breast cancer

Rating

5 Star

Abortion pill might help battle breast cancer

Our Review Summary

The story notes that RU-486 (trade name mifepristone) is being studied as a treatment approach for the prevention of breast cancer in high-risk women, that is, those who carry the BRCA1 gene.  The study of this drug is still in an early animal research phase, and due to potential long-term harms of RU-486, this treatment is definitely not for women at this time.   

 

The story discusses the study design of RU-486 in a small group of mice. The findings that treated mice (10 mice) did not develop tumors after a year compared to a placebo-treated and control group is interesting and promising, but years of further research are needed before testing could begin in humans. The story cites cancer specialists who emphasize this point. 

 

The warning that this treatment is a long way off, if appropriate at all, gives a much needed temperance to the findings of this study and to the overenthusiastic headline of this story. The story does provide a short list of currently available, evidence-based options to lower the risk of breast cancer in women with the BRCA1 gene.

 

This is a very complete story, and it was written in less than 550 words.
 

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Satisfactory

The story does not note the cost of this potential treatment; however, this is not relevant for this piece as RU-486 is still in very early stages of animal testing and not an option for breast cancer prevention in any woman at this time.

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

Satisfactory

The story reports absolute numbers for the benefit of this drug in 10 of 14 mice treated with RU-486. 

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

Satisfactory

The story notes that due to unknown harms of long-term use of RU-486, it is not recommended for as a breast cancer prevention drug at this time.

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

Satisfactory

The story discusses the study design and outcomes of RU-486 in a small group of mice. The findings that all of the mice in the control group developed tumors and none in the treated group did after a year is interesting and promising, but further research is still needed before testing could begin in humans. The story cites cancer specialists who emphasize this point.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

Despite the over-enthusiastic and misleading headline, the story does not engage in disease mongering, as the treatment and early research discussed is targeted at women with he BRCA1 gene.

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

Satisfactory

The story interviews a cancer researcher not affiliated with the study, as well as a physican affliated with the American Cancer Society. Both of these sources provide excellent perspective on the results of these early findings in a very small group of mice. The warning that this treatment is a long way off, if appropriate at all, gives a much needed temperance to the findings of this study and to this story. The story appropriately notes the funding sources for the study.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Satisfactory

The story gives a short list of available, evidence-based options to lower the risk of breast cancer in women with the BRCA1 gene.  The story notes that these women are at significantly greater risk of developing breast cancer during their lifetime.

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

Satisfactory

The story notes that RU-486 is still being tested in animals and would not be appropriate or available at this time for women at high genetic risk of developing cancer.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The story notes that RU-486 (trade name mifepristone) as a treatment approach is still in an early animal research phase and definitely not for patients at this time– despite the over-enthusiastic headline.

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

Satisfactory

 This story does not appear to rely on a press release due to the inclusion of 2 cancer specialist sources and other independent reporting.

Total Score: 10 of 10 Satisfactory

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