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Scans don’t prevent lung cancer deaths

Rating

4 Star

Scans don’t prevent lung cancer deaths

Our Review Summary

An article published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association adds new fuel to the debate over the utility of lung cancer screening. The study found no benefit from screening in terms of the risk of advanced lung cancer or death from lung cancer. These results appear to contradict those of a study from last year showing a benefit from screening. This story does a good job of explaining the controversy, describing the current study and quoting people from both sides of the debate.

By not exaggerating the prevalence or seriousness of lung cancer, the story avoids disease mongering. The story also adequately describes the design of the current study and mentions another study published last year that appears to contradict the latest findings.

The story does describe the costs of the scan as being $300 to $400 and rightly points out that most insurance companies don't cover them. The story mentions several potential harms from CT screening, including risks that arise from unecessary treatment (lung punctures, bleeding, infection) as well as the failure of the scans to pick up fast-growing cancers that grow in between scheduled screenings.

The story does not mention that lung cancer screening is not a new concept (x-ray screening has been done for decades), but that using CT to do so is relatively new and does not mention whether CT scans are available and if so, how widely.

Overall, a solid reporting job – and in only 583 words.  

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Satisfactory

The story does describe the costs of the scan as being $300 to $400. The story also rightly points out that most insurance companies don't cover them.

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

Satisfactory

The story does mention the number of lung cancer cases and deaths that were predicted by the model versus observed with screening.

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

Satisfactory

The story mentions several potential harms from CT screening, including risks that arise from unecessary treatment (lung punctures, bleeding, infection) as well as the failure of the scans to pick up fast-growing cancers that grow in between scheduled screenings.

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

Satisfactory

The story adequately describes the design of the current study and mentions another study published last year that appears to contradict the latest findings.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

By not exaggerating the prevalence or seriousness of lung cancer, the story avoids disease mongering.

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

Satisfactory

The story quotes multiple experts who have differing views of the utility of lung cancer screening.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Satisfactory

The story mentions stopping smoking as an alternative method of preventing lung cancer death. The story could have mentioned that x-rays are also used to screen for lung cancer.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story does not mention whether CT scans are available and if so, how widely.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not mention that lung cancer screening is not a new concept (x-ray screening has been done for decades), but that using CT to do so is relatively new.

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

Satisfactory

Because the story quoted multiple, independent experts, the reader can assume the story did not rely on a press release as the sole source of information.

Total Score: 8 of 10 Satisfactory

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