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Behind Hype Cancer Treatment Advertisements

When facing a cancer diagnosis, patients and their families understandably want to find the best medical care possible. Television advertisements for treatment centers that tout “groundbreaking” treatment and feature patient success stories can be persuasive, but are they telling the whole story?

According to a new study, many of these commercials feature a lot of hype and very few facts. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh examined 409 advertisements from 102 centers across the United States. They found that discussions of the benefits highly outweighed any mention of the risks, with just two percent of ads addressing the possible downsides of treatment.

Below are a few more findings from the study, which is published in the Annals of Internal Medicine:

  • Few advertisements mentioned coverage or costs (5%), and none mentioned specific insurance plans.
  • Emotional appeals were frequent (85%), evoking hope for survival (61%), describing cancer treatment as a fight or battle (41%), and inducing fear (30%).
  • Nearly one half of advertisements included patient testimonials, which were usually focused on survival, rarely included disclaimers (15%), and never described the results that a typical patient may expect.

Unlike prescriptions drugs, advertisements for hospitals and other healthcare facilities are not tightly regulated. Therefore, it is imperative for patients to ask questions and do their own research before choosing a treatment center.

If you or someone you love has suffered from medical negligence, don’t hesitate to contact a San Diego medical malpractice attorney at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation.