Wednesday, 20 February 2008

One in a million

More on relative risk and quality of information. Phil Bradley's blog alerted me to an item that looks at the incidence of inaccurate data on breast cancer web sites. Apparently 5% of sites looked at contained inaccuracies. The conclusion is that patients should be sceptical of things they read online.

I'd agree that a spot of scepticism is always useful, but it seems to me that the result of this study is that a whopping 95% of websites looked at had no inaccuracies. I find that really heartening - it restores my faith in the quality of online information. Having said that I am, of course, suffering from a common problem here. I haven't read the paper in Cancer that reports the study. I haven't even read the abstract. I've just read the Reuters report on the paper. Did the original paper say how many inaccuracies there were on each of the offending sites? Or how big those inaccuaries were? Or how important? How did they select the sites they looked at? The Reuters report doesn't say.

On a similar theme I've today posted a link on the current awareness page to a paper in JNCI looking at women's perception of risk of recurrence of Ductal Carcinoma In Situ. Women with DCIS are understandably anxious and that leads them to believe that the chances of it recurring are far higher than is actually the case. It's just as well that there is no link between having an anxious - or any other type - of personality, and cancer.

For accurate statistical data on breast and other cancers, Cancer Research UK is a good starting point.

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