Often I am compelled to debunk yet another media news flash that touts the advances being made in the cancer war. I yearn for good news from the various headquarters of the campaign against the worst disease of this generation. Any headline or statement that proclaims progress in the anti-cancer effort grabs my attention. Sadly, almost every press release bearing seemingly good news turns out, in further analysis, to be false hope.
Usually, these announcements originate from newly completed statistical analyses that show some improvement in the cancer numbers. Periodically, the government, through the National Cancer Institute, distributes new statistics with the best spin possible to encourage everyone, particularly those who donate to cancer research. I have become rather cynical in regard to these numbers and usually find them to be “voodoo” statistics. In the 1980 Republican presidential primary, George H. W. Bush dubbed the Ronald Reagan supply-side economic recovery plan “voodoo economics.” The implication was that Reagan’s numbers were being twisted to justify his theories. Likewise I find many of the generalized news released by the government’s cancer agencies to be somewhat misleading. The cancer survivor report just released is a case in point.