Use of the Word "Cure" in the Oncology Literature.

Author(s): Prasad V

Journal: Am J Hosp Palliat Care

Date: 2015 Aug

Major Program(s) or Research Group(s): CPFP

PubMed ID: 24558172

PMC ID: not available

Abstract: PURPOSE: "Cure" is an important word in oncology but its use in the published literature has not been examined. I investigated all oncology articles using cure in the title field and published in 2012. The definition of cure was examined, specifically whether or not authors use the word to connote some surviving subset of patients who go on to experience outcomes similar to age-matched, normal controls-a definition favored by researchers and employed in survival function analyses. METHODS: All articles published between January 1, 2012, and December 31, 2012, with the word cure in the title field were retrieved from Thompson Reuters' Web of Science. After exclusions, articles were read in full to examine what definitions of cure was used. Additionally, for each situation (type of cancer, stage/grade) where the word cure was used, a literature search was performed to ascertain whether there existed documented cases of cure. RESULTS: Twenty-nine oncology articles used the word cure in their title in 2012. Nearly half, 14 (48%) of 29, used the term in situations (cancer type, stage/grade) currently considered incurable. Approximately one-third (34.5%) of the articles used the word consistent with the definition that, after a set period of time, some surviving subset of patients experience survival similar to normal controls. CONCLUSION: There is heterogeneity in the use of the word cure in the literature.