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Five Year Survival Rates

Posted 4/4/2013

Posted in

  In a way, this is a companion piece to my recent blog on the use (or not) of the word "cure" in Cancer World. In Breast Cancer World, five year survival rates are misleading, often misused, and not so important. As I have said before, each year that you stay healthy, the odds of remaining healthy increase. But three years or five years or even ten years have no special magic for women who have had breast cancer. Research and statistics have to be organized in some way, and the standard format is five and ten years.

  This is a short piece from Health News Watchdog about this issue. The excerpt, the beginning of the essay, that I am copying here is about prostate cancer, but it goes on to discuss breast cancer survival rates. This is a quick read, and one that is worth a few minutes of your time:

Rudy Giuliani, Komen, and 5-Year Survival Rates

by Gary Schwitzer,

by Gary Schwitzer,

Published: March 08, 2013

Professor Gerd Gigerenzer of the Max Planck Institute in Berlin published an article in the BMJ, “Five

year survival rates can mislead.” Excerpt:

While running for president of the United States the former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani

announced in a 2007 campaign advertisement, “I had prostate cancer, 5, 6 years ago. My chance of

surviving prostate cancer — and thank God, I was cured of it — in the United States? Eighty-two

percent. My chance of surviving prostate cancer in England? Only 44% under socialized medicine.”

To Giuliani this meant that he was lucky to be living in New York and not in York, because his

chances of surviving prostate cancer seemed to be twice as high in New York. Yet despite this

impressive difference in the 5-year survival rate, the mortality rate was about the same in the U.S.

and the U.K.


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