Statistics and Their Meaning
It is rather surprising for a therapist's office, but there is a lot of discussion of statistics in my space. Especially around diagnosis or when making treatment decisions, some women want as many statistics as possible, and then obsess about how to try to get themselves onto the wanted side of those numbers. As we all know, response or survival statistics refer to a large pool of people and are fairly meaningless to a single individual. For each person, the number is either 0 or 100--that is, either the treatment works or it does not. Still, having some sense about the probabilities can be helpful, but they can also be very distressing. We usually know how much we want to know and only ask the questions that we want answered.
This is an article about the value of statistics in considering cancer screening. Here is the beginning and then a link to read more:
A Closer Look
Crunching Numbers: What Cancer Screening Statistics Really Tell Us
Over the past several years, the conversation about cancer screening has started to change within the medical community. Be it breast, prostate, or ovarian cancer, the trend is to recommend less routine screening, not more. These recommendations are based on an emerging-if counterintuitive-understanding that more screening does not necessarily translate into fewer cancer deaths and that some screening may actually do more harm than good.
Much of the confusion surrounding the benefits of screening comes from interpreting the statistics that are often used to describe the results of screening studies. An improvement in survival-how long a person lives after a cancer diagnosis-among people who have undergone a cancer screening test is often taken to imply that the test saves lives.
But survival cannot be used accurately for this purpose because of several sources of bias.