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Cervical cancer vaccine sparks debate

Rating

3 Star

Cervical cancer vaccine sparks debate

Our Review Summary

This story reports on the movement in some states to make the new HPV vaccine a requirement for all young women. This short piece does a good job of representing the cost, novelty and availability of the vaccine, but fails to mention any harms of the vaccine and does not describe the strength of the evidence to support its use.

Furthermore, the story only quotes one expert, the father of a young girl being vaccinated who happens to be a physician. The story should have quoted additional experts or clinicians who could provide some additional perspective. Although the story does state that the vaccine could reduce HPV-related cervical cancer by 70%, this is not adequate quantification of the benefits. 70% of what? The reader should be informed whether HPV-related cancer accounts for a small or large amount of cancer cases.

Finally, the story avoids disease mongering by not exaggerating the annual number of deaths from cervical cancer. However, the story could have provided more context for these numbers – for example, how common HPV is and how rare it is for HPV infection to lead to cervical cancer.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Satisfactory

The story does mention the cost of the vaccine. The story should have compared this cost to the alternative – regular pap smears. This is important information given that women will still need regular pap smears even if they are vaccinated.

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

Not Satisfactory

Although the story does state that the vaccine could reduce HPV-related cervical cancer by 70%, this is not adequate quantification of the benefits. 70% of what? The reader should be informed whether HPV-related cancer accounts for a small or large amount of cancer cases.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story does not describe any potential harms of the vaccine.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story does not describe the strength of the available evidence to support the use of the vaccine.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

The story does not exaggerate the annual number of deaths from cervical cancer. The story could have provided more context for these numbers – for example, how common HPV is and how rare it is for HPV infection to lead to cervical cancer.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story only quotes one expert, the father of a young girl being vaccinated. The story should have quoted additional experts or clinicians who could provide some additional perspective.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not mention any alternatives, most notably, regular pap smears.

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

Satisfactory

The story states that the FDA only recently approved the vaccine.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The story clearly states that the vaccine was only recently approved and that this represents a novel approach to preventing HPV infection.

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

Not Applicable

We can't be sure if the story relied on a press release as the sole source of information.

Total Score: 4 of 9 Satisfactory

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