Advertising Unknown Outcomes

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Recently I have seen commercials on TV from a particular cancer treatment center. I have no particular view point on advertising medical treatment because I see it all the time – from Doctors, Hospitals, drug companies, and other medical items. But the commercials from this treatment center just seem a bit off to me because it seems to imply they can do something that may not be possible – curing you of cancer.

The commercial starts with a woman telling her experience at a hospital and finding out they had cancer. In the two I’ve seen the women basically say “The Doctor comes in says you have cancer and leaves…” and they tell how bad they feel and how they want to do whatever it takes to beat the cancer. The implied message is the hospital or doctor they get the news from doesn’t want to help.

The first commercial I saw had the woman continue with her story by say she went to the treatment center and was given all kinds of tests and exams and she asked her new doctor how long did she have to live. She tells the camera that the doctor said she had no expiration date and he couldn’t tell just by looking at her.

Here is the text of the story that is on their website (I redacted the name of the patient, doctor, and hospital):

In July 2001, Peggy was told she had stage IV pancreatic cancer and to go home and get her affairs in order. In this video, Peggy talks about how she found hope and healing at treatment center

“After three days of testing, I looked at [the Doctor] and I said “How long do I have?” And he looked at me and said “Peggy, we did a lot of tests on you and I never saw one thing stamped on the bottom of your foot that said you were going to die in two months. You have no expiration date. That is in hands way above mine.”

It’s really unbelievable how one doctor can tell me I have two months to live, and then I got to [the center] and they offered hope.

This treatment center is making an implied promise to “cure” people of cancer.

I know that sometimes compassion is missing or in low supply in the medical field but I find it hard to take a medical facility telling a patient that if you use us you have a better chance to not dying from cancer.

I just don’t think more compassion or telling patients what they want to hear – rather than the truth – is good business especially for someone with cancer. I also don’t think any hospital or Doctor would not do everything to treat cancer if they can. If they didn’t then one could claim malpractice.

Cancer isn’t some monolith disease where one fix takes care of it – if it were then there might not be any cancer in the world. Sometimes treatment works, sometimes it works for awhile, and sometimes it doesn’t work at all. The outcome is based on the cancer, the person, and how soon it is discovered.


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