Lead-time Bias

  • A common assumption is that a cancer may not have been diagnosed early enough to make a difference, with the assumption being that early diagnosis is always better.
  • In reality, cancers are present for very long periods of time before they are diagnosable, and many have metastasized prior to the period in which they can be detected.
  • The life span of more than 60% of cancer patients is essentially predetermined by the characteristics of the cancer itself. While a patient diagnosed earlier may live “longer” than one diagnosed later, both patients actually survive about the same length of time from the first cancer cell.

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