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Published on June 11, 2014

Dangerous Claims of Miracle Cures for Cancer

June 11, 2014

miracle signWhen we receive a diagnosis of a disease from our doctor, we want to receive the best treatment. Many sources provide information, especially the internet, but friends and family will also have much to say. How do we know we are getting the best care?

Medical treatment should be based on evidence. Healthcare providers use guidelines based on research that has proven a treatment works. In order for a new treatment to become a standard of care, it has to be successful in clinical trials numerous times in different settings. One study is not enough to prove that a new treatment should be used instead of the current, already proven, standard of care. A proposed new treatment has to be tested many times very carefully to make sure that this new treatment really is better.

Here is a simple example of how one research study is not enough: one night on the news we hear that chocolate is bad for us. The next night we hear that it is good for us. The first night the news team reported on one study that had been released, and the next night they reported on a different study. Scientists and physicians have to gather the evidence from multiple studies, sift through all the evidence, and then establish guidelines for care.

So the next time you hear about a miracle cure for a cancer, look for the evidence. How many studies is the claim based on? Are there any studies that contradict the claim? Has the medical community established a guideline based on the evidence?

To find guidelines for cancer care, go to the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) website at www.nccn.org and look at NCCN guidelines for patients. Click on a cancer type and a booklet will open. The booklet starts with the list of experts who have developed the guidelines – these are the leading researchers nationwide. Next are the guidelines for diagnosis and treatment for each stage of that cancer. If you read the guidelines for patients, you will be well-equipped to ask your doctor questions and to answer people who ask you questions about your cancer (you can also direct them to the NCCN website). Most importantly, you will have peace of mind because you will know that you are receiving the treatment that is the best practice based on evidence. 

For more information about cancer care at KishHealth System Cancer Centers visit www.kishcancer.org

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