Cancer: Is Mortality The Only Metric?

Preface: *I would like to acknowledge the author and artist that was an inspiration for this article, Austin Kleon. (Austin’s site is here) I love his work and as I was reading the scientific studies it inspired me to look at it with a different lens, one of a patient. 

On Tuesday of this week the “Twenty five year follow-up for breast cancer incidence and mortality of the Canadian National Breast Screening Study: Randomized Screening Trial was Published in the British Medical Journal.” (study here)

The study concluded that after following nearly 90,000 patients for over 25 years that there was no significant difference in mortality (death) of women that had annual screening mammography versus the patients that had clinical breast exams and had access to adjuvant therapy for breast cancer.

Which gave me an idea. Is mortality the right outcome? (click on link below)

Breast Ca Mortality 

In reading the entire journal article It made me think about the initial reactions of most cancer patients. Am I going to live? If so, for how long?

However, as the progression of having support teams of family, friends, and a care team becomes more established so does a patients understanding of their diagnosis, and the prognosis.

At some point in time, the initial questions of am I going to live or die may move onto other topics such as quality of life, physical activity, mental health, sexuality, or feeling emotionally complete.

Which made me think of the next item: The quality of life for women with breast cancer (click link below)

Breast Ca QOL

As researchers and clinicians perform their studies on all types of cancer I encourage them to also consider the metrics in which the studies are performed.

Granted, anyone’s initial response to being told that they have cancer is one of am I going to live or die. So it makes sense that studies use mortality as an outcome metric.

Yet, as time progresses, our needs and measure of success evolves. We move from are we going to live to one of how will this impact our daily lives and normal routines. Will we ever be close to where we originally were prior to our diagnosis.?

I would encourage our researchers to continue to push the envelope of science, but at the same time to remember the stories that science impacts.

Mothers. Fathers. Sisters. Brothers. Ourselves. Patients. Consumers.

Mortality is one chapter in the story. It may be at the beginning, but hopefully it is not the only chapter we write.

What story will you write?

As always, you can feel free to contact me at: CANCERGEEK@GMAIL.COM or follow me on twitter @cancergeek


#PtExp #PX #cancer #hcldr #hccosts #hcsm #stories #storytelling #lcsm #bcsm #hcmktg #mktg #storyteller #hcpt #consumerism #hcbiz #CX #UX #Bioethx

3 responses to “Cancer: Is Mortality The Only Metric?

  1. I think that the mortality v quality of life equation is more important when it comes to survival times in inevitably terminal cases rather than screenings. If there is a chance to cure and return a patient to the rest of their life, mortality stats are important. An extra month or two of palliative care from intensive and debilitating treatment is another matter.
    I believe that doctors should be entirely neutral and balanced on presenting the choices to the patients under these circumstances and respectful of their decision. They should not allow the hard, black and white mortality and survival data to pressurise their patients into heroic and debiliting attempts to prolong life at all costs.

  2. Pingback: Weekly Round Up: The Valentine’s Edition | Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer

  3. I feel passionately that we need to expand our care around cancer care. It is no longer just about saving a life, it is also about the quality of that life for the longer term.

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