Superlative Terms May Be Overused When Describing Cancer Drugs

Vinay Prasad, MD MPH Assistant Professor of Medicine Division of Hematology Oncology in the Knight Cancer Institute Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine Senior Scholar in the Center for Health Care Ethics Oregon Health and Sciences University Portland, Oregon 97239

Dr. Prasad

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Vinay Prasad, MD MPH
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Division of Hematology Oncology in the Knight Cancer Institute
Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine
Senior Scholar in the Center for Health Care Ethics
Oregon Health and Sciences University
Portland, Oregon 97239

 

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Prasad: We wanted to get some information about when and which cancer drugs were called “game changer” or “breakthrough” or “revolutionary”.  What we found was surprising.  The use of these grandiose terms, or superlatives, was common in news articles.  They occurred across many classes of medication, were used for approved and unapproved drugs, and some of the use was questionable.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Prasad: Patients should not be cynical about something they read in the news, but should be critical, and ask whether the drugs have been shown to improve survival or quality of life.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Prasad: I think we should be more cautious in how we use these terms, as they are loaded, and carry tremendous meaning.

Citation:

Abola MV, Prasad V. The Use of Superlatives in Cancer Research. JAMA Oncol. Published online October 29, 2015. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2015.3931.

 

Vinay Prasad, MD MPH (2015). Superlative Terms May Be Overused When Describing Cancer Drugs MedicalResearch.com

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