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Mathematical models out-perform doctors in predicting cancer patients' responses to treatment
Date:4/19/2013

Geneva, Switzerland: Mathematical prediction models are better than doctors at predicting the outcomes and responses of lung cancer patients to treatment, according to new research presented today (Saturday) at the 2nd Forum of the European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology (ESTRO).

These differences apply even after the doctor has seen the patient, which can provide extra information, and knows what the treatment plan and radiation dose will be.

"The number of treatment options available for lung cancer patients are increasing, as well as the amount of information available to the individual patient. It is evident that this will complicate the task of the doctor in the future," said the presenter, Dr Cary Oberije, a postdoctoral researcher at the MAASTRO Clinic, Maastricht University Medical Center, Maastricht, The Netherlands. "If models based on patient, tumour and treatment characteristics already out-perform the doctors, then it is unethical to make treatment decisions based solely on the doctors' opinions. We believe models should be implemented in clinical practice to guide decisions."

Dr Oberije and her colleagues in The Netherlands used mathematical prediction models that had already been tested and published. The models use information from previous patients to create a statistical formula that can be used to predict the probability of outcome and responses to treatment using radiotherapy with or without chemotherapy for future patients.

Having obtained predictions from the mathematical models, the researchers asked experienced radiation oncologists to predict the likelihood of lung cancer patients surviving for two years, or suffering from shortness of breath (dyspnea) and difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) at two points in time: 1) after they had seen the patient for the first time, and 2) after the treatment plan was made. At the first time point, the doctors predicted two-year survival for 121 patients, dysp
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Contact: Emma Mason
wordmason@mac.com
European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology (ESTRO)
Source:Eurekalert

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