Numbers can be deceiving

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Veteran Member

Date Joined Nov 2006
Total Posts : 1464
   Posted 4/18/2008 1:02 PM (GMT -6)   
In our search for information we almost always run into studies that publish their results using statistics.  It is important to understand what these numbers mean.  These results apply to the population as a whole and mean nothing to an individual case.  They can be validly applied as guidelines for treatment but contain no guarantees.  Also, they are not probablilites because they are calculated from experimental data.  (To calculate the probablility that a certain treatment is, say 90% effective for a cure, we would have to understand everything about the physical, medical and chemical processes involved.)
Example:  The probability that a coin flip comes up heads is 1/2.  We know this because we understand the simple physical law that governs this action.  Yet, if we flip a coing 10 times, it could come up heads 2 or 7 or 9 times.  If we used these experiments and called the results probabilities, the probability of a head would be 2/10 or 7/10 or 9/10.
The principle that validates the use of experimental data in studies is that if we do the experiment a very large number of times, the result will approximate the probability.  Yet any single result of the experiment would probably not match the overall result.
The media thrives on eye grabbing sensationalism.  The following link demonstrates how statistics are used to alarm people and sell ad space.,0,3924193.story

Age 73. Diagnosed 11/03/06. PSA 7.05. Stage T2C Gleason 3+3.
RRP 12/7/06. Nerves and nodes okay.
Catheter out on 12/13/06.  Dry on 12/14/06.
Pathological stage: T2C N0 MX. Gleason 3+4.
50 mg Viagra + 1000 mg L-Arginine + .03 cc Trimix = Excellent Results
PSAs from  1/3/07 - 1/17/08 0.00. 
Next PSA test on 7/17/08
"Patience is essential, attitude is everything."

Post Edited (biker90) : 4/18/2008 12:06:05 PM (GMT-6)

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jan 2007
Total Posts : 762
   Posted 4/18/2008 1:49 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Jim,

This is a wonderful post. Can I quote you? Statistics make me mad for the reasons you explain so very well! Lana

Creed_three (Lana & CJ)
Husband CJ aged 50 yrs (49 years at diagnosis and surgery)
PSA (2002) 2.1.  PSA (2006) 3.5.  1 x (5%) core of 12 positive at biopsy. 11 cores negative. Open Radical Prostatectomy with nerve sparing, on 17th April 2007 (Sydney, Australia).
Gleeson 3 + 4 = 7.  Cancer confined. 1st PSA 0.01 (June 07) 2nd PSA 0.02 (Oct 07) undetectable. 3rd PSA 0.02 (April 08) undetectable.

Post Edited (creed_three) : 4/19/2008 4:34:21 PM (GMT-6)

Veteran Member

Date Joined Feb 2007
Total Posts : 1219
   Posted 4/18/2008 2:43 PM (GMT -6)   

Now that's information we can use! I don't like statistics myself - they make no sense to me as they don't take into account hope, will & love.
(The only time I like stats is when they're in my favor!)

Thanks for a 100% enlightening post!

Husband Diagnosed 11/17/05 Age: 63 PSA: 7.96 No Symptoms
2/09/06: LRP - Post Pathology - Gleason 4+3 Stage T2b NO MX
3 mo. PSA: 11.8 Stage T3a
6 mo. PSA: 18.8 Stage IV Systemic w/ distant lymph node involvement
Start HT - Lupron 3 mo. shots
12/06/06: PSA 0.8
03/07/07: PSA 0.3
PSA - Undetectable since 6/07/07

Link to journey:

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