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Scare Tactics and Exaggerations of Cancer Centers

April 29, 2013

A recent report from Reuters talked about the tactics of Cancer Treatment Centers of America.

The piece started with a story of a woman who called for help, but was denied after the Center realized she had cancer spread throughout her body. I’m sure this for-profit company is not the only entity who advertises that their centers have spectacular results, then tells the sickest to not pass through their doors.

Reuters asked nine cancer experts to review the claims on the Center’s website of survival rates. These experts noticed that the results were skewed in several ways: few elderly patients, almost no insured patients, and almost no Medicaid patients. Results were further skewed by the Center’s acknowledgment that the statistics were only for patients who “received treatment at [the center] for the duration of their illness. This means the more active and wealthier patients who could afford the time away from their hometowns were preferentially included in the survival numbers.

The biggest single predictor of health outcomes, across many diseases and conditions, is socio-economic status.

If you have a more attractive insurer and personal income, the Center will pick you up in a limo when you fly to one of the towns their treatment facilities are located in. Their ads scare viewers into believing they have cheated themselves or their loved ones if they don’t rush to one of these Centers.

Their ads play up hope. Their behavior blurs the line between reasonable aggressive care and churning insurance bills under the guise of false hope. There is no hope these Centers are the solution for an exorbitant U.S. healthcare system.

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One Response to Scare Tactics and Exaggerations of Cancer Centers

  1. Imogene F. Suarez on May 18, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    SEER includes patients “with and without insurance, with and without other serious medical conditions, at or not at cancer centers, treated by all types of doctors, not just oncologists, and even including those who never received treatment because the cancer was diagnosed too late,” said Celette Skinner, associate director for Population Science & Cancer Control in the Harold C. Simmons Cancer Center at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

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