"Why Survival Rate is Not the Best Way to Judge Cancer Spending" by Aaron Carroll M.D. serves a purpose: It brings attention to how we measure and talk about success in healthcare.
Carroll explains the difference between mortality and survival rates, illustrating how they can lead to different conclusions about the success of ongoing research (my highlight):
discussions of cost effectiveness are difficult to have...I am sure there are many people who believe that $400,000 isn’t too much money to give a woman with breast cancer an additional year of quality adjusted life. But this is money we can’t then spend on other treatments or other therapies that might do more good for more people.
We should have these conversations, and we should do them with the right data. When it comes to preventing death, we need to consider mortality rates, not survival rates, or we may be getting far less for our money than we think.
The comments posted in response span a wide spectrum and point out some weaknesses of Carroll's argument. I want to draw attention to the comment that intelligent conversation about these difficult issues necessitates that people understand how people measure health -- especially researchers, politicians and economists.
To help make sense of what's happening in public policy, as well as to be able to make wise personal health decisions, Healthy Survivors learn about the metrics being used to draw conclusions.