Cancer Center Members to Discuss Interpreting Health-Risk Information

March 05, 2010
Lebanon, NH

This event has now passed

Just about every day, dire stories in the media warn of new cancer risks. Ads on television describe hazards found in the home, at work, in the environment - and give the phone number of an attorney to call. A new study in the news says two drinks a day increase a woman's chance of getting breast cancer by 21 percent. Other stories debate the effectiveness of PSA scores in predicting prostate cancer.

But how much risk for cancer is really part of everyday life? In a public presentation on March 9 at Norris Cotton Cancer Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Steve Woloshin, MD, and Lisa Schwartz, MD, members of the Cancer Center's Cancer Control Research Program and experts in risk analysis, will talk about how to understand cancer risk. Their talk, sponsored by Friends of the Norris Cotton Cancer Center, will put statistical information into real-world perspective and will provide the audience with the basic skills necessary for navigating today's ocean of media and Internet health information.

Drs. Schwartz and Woloshin

Lisa Schwartz, MD, and Steve Woloshin, MD

"Our research focuses on improving the communication of medical information to patients, physicians, journalists, and policymakers. We are especially interested in creating and testing practical ways to overcome two important barriers to good communication: one, many people - patients, providers, journalists - have difficulty interpreting medical data; and two, exaggerated and incomplete and misleading health messages are common," comments Woloshin. "We'll be using cancer-related examples to help people learn how to understand messages about health risks."

Schwartz and Woloshin, who are Dartmouth Medical School faculty and members of the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, have just published Know Your Chances: Understanding Health Statistics (University of California Press) to help people see through hype in medical news, advertising, and public service announcements. The doctors, in addition to their teaching duties at Dartmouth, are also both practicing internists at the Veterans Administration Hospital in White River Junction, VT.

Their talk begins at 7:00 p.m. on March 9 in Auditorium G at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, NH. Light refreshments will be served.

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