Archive for December, 2009

More on Cancer Screening

December 20, 2009

The Times today had another article on cancer screening, mostly breast cancer but also some discussion of prostate cancer. Pretty similar to what we discussed in class, except that they assumed in the 40-50 year age group that only 1 in 1000 women have cancer. This leads to a less than 1% chance that a woman in that age group has cancer, given a positive mammogram (as compared to somewhat under 10% in the larger group that includes older women that we discussed in class). At the same time many women will have false positives that will lead to unnecessary treatment including chemotherapy, radiation or even mastectomies.

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When Lowering the Odds of Cancer Isn’t Enough

December 15, 2009

Yet another interesting article, which discusses the risks and benefits of taking a drug as a prophylactic to prevent breast cancer in women at high risk. The comments are worth reading.

Mammogram Math

December 13, 2009

The New York Times today ran an article on mammogram math. No surprises here for anyone in the class, but it is interesting to see how the things we discussed are now being explained in a major newspaper.

Professor Risk

December 11, 2009

If you are still reading the blog, I became aware today of this clip, posted on YouTube (along with several related items), and this blog, which is on the general topic of uncertainty (probability) and risk…the same as the topic of the course. Note in particular this article from the blog, which discusses some of the things we talked about when we were talking about criminal trials.

The star of the video clip is Professor David Spiegelhalter, a well-known Bayesian statistician from Britain.

Last week

December 5, 2009

Monday we will hear from Dr. Turner Osler, of the medical school. Please be sure to have read the handout I gave you last week.

Wednesday we will have a party.

Please be sure to turn in any outstanding work that you may owe me by Monday so that I can work out your tentative grades.