Headline Half Truths
BMJ gives a balanced report regarding the results of prostatectomy vs
watchful waiting study. (1). Given that many non-specialists are likely to
'skim through the pages’, the accompanying title is also appropriately
very balanced as well.
But the title of the news item immediately next to it gives the
impression that tamoxifen is beneficial for women at high risk of breast
cancer. (2). Even though the disadvantages have been clarified in the
text, the higher mortality in women taking tamoxifen should have been
highlighted in the title of the news item for the benefit of ‘skimmers’.
(1). Scott Gottlieb. Watchful waiting as good as surgery for
prostrate cancer. BMJ 2002; 325:613 ( 21 September ).
(2). Susan Mayor. Tamoxifen reduces breast cancer by a third in high-
risk women. BMJ 2002; 325:613 ( 21 September ).
Competing interests: No competing interests