Thursday, February 23, 2012

NY Times Over Hypes Medical Study

The NY Times says about a newly published study on colonoscopy, "strong evidence has been lacking until now." Unfortunately, the article quotes several experts about the limitations of the study's design which undermine any broad conclusions about the overall life-saving benefits of the procedure.

From The New York Times, "Report Affirms Lifesaving Role of Colonoscopy" by Denise Grady:
The new study did not compare colonoscopy with other ways of screening for colorectal cancer and so does not fully resolve a longstanding medical debate about which method is best. Tests other than colonoscopy look for blood in the stool or use different techniques to examine the intestine.
But Dr. Harold C. Sox, an emeritus professor of medicine at Dartmouth Medical School and former editor of a leading medical journal, Annals of Internal Medicine, cautioned that the new study was not the last word. He said it was not clear that the same reduction in the death rate found in the study would occur in the general population.
The type of evidence in this study, based on looking back at patient records, is not considered as reliable as that from a randomized controlled study, in which groups of patients are picked at random to have one treatment or another and then compared over time.

Dr. Sox also said that because all of the patients in the study had adenomatous polyps, it is not certain that the findings would apply exactly to the general population, in which this type of polyp is found in about 15 percent of women and 25 percent of men.
Also, if you read the article, the study only compared colorectal cancer deaths among the groups. It did not look at overall mortality rates to see if any increased deaths occurred from the known complications of a colonoscopy.

1 comment :

  1. It is really a big issue if medical researcher have a problem on their medical study particularly in discovering new drugs without any clear insight and agreement between government and medical team.