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

cceed if prediction models are used in clinical practice. We have shown that current models already outperform doctors. Therefore, this study can be used as a strong argument in favour of using prediction models and changing current clinical practice," said Dr Oberije.

"Correct prediction of outcomes is important for several reasons," she continued. "First, it offers the possibility to discuss treatment options with patients. If survival chances are very low, some patients might opt for a less aggressive treatment with fewer side-effects and better quality of life. Second, it could be used to assess which patients are eligible for a specific clinical trial. Third, correct predictions make it possible to improve and optimise the treatment. Currently, treatment guidelines are applied to the whole lung cancer population, but we know that some patients are cured while others are not and some patients suffer from severe side-effects while others don't. We know that there are many factors that play a role in the prognosis of patients and prediction models can combine them all."

At present, prediction models are not used as widely as they could be by doctors. Dr Oberije says there are a number of reasons: some models lack clinical credibility; others have not yet been tested; the models need to be available and easy to use by doctors; and many doctors still think that seeing a patient gives them information that cannot be captured in a model. "Our study shows that it is very unlikely that a doctor can outperform a model," she concluded.

President of ESTRO, Professor Vincenzo Valentini, a radiation oncologist at the Policlinico Universitario A. Gemelli, Rome, Italy, commented: "The booming growth of biological, imaging and clinical information will challenge the decision capacity of every oncologist. The understanding of the knowledge management sciences is becoming a priority for radiation oncologists in order for them to tailor their choices to
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Contact: Emma Mason
wordmason@mac.com
European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology (ESTRO)
Source:Eurekalert

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