Monday, April 20, 2015

Weeds you should understand

A great NY Times Upshot article describes, in normal English, the difference between mortality and survival rates. They do sound the same, but aren’t. The article starts out with two cancer studies seem to have reached opposite conclusions. (These things really bug me because it leads people to throw up their hands and doubt all science.) Read down to the example of thumb cancer (not a real thing). I’ll be using this example with my students often.

In a related Health Affairs article, researchers estimate that false positive breast cancer results cost the US health system $4 billion annually in unnecessary treatments including more imaging, biopsies, surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.