Jan 15, 2013

By Michael Kramer

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A troubling New York Times report on cancer research.

It says new results show  most clinical trials highlighting  the effectiveness and toxicity of new cancer treatments and drugs are compromised by faulty reporting  of benefits and harmful results.

Researchers examined 164 trials of treatments for breast cancer published from 1995 to 2011 including studies of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.

Almost a third of the trials reported a positive result  not based on the primary goal of the study and two-thirds of the trials failed to accurately report the toxicity of the intervention being studied.

The authors also  found that the more effective a treatment was said to be, the more likely it’s  bad side effects were minimized.

The senior author  was Dr. Ian F. Tannock, a professor of medical oncology at the University of Toronto, who says  many trials are  using spin and bias to make the results look more impressive than they really are – and that can have implications for the choice of treatment for individual patients.

The results were posted online last week in the Annals of Oncology.

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