Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A brief note on statistics

One expert said to me yesterday....

"Briefly, you have a risk of recurrence and even a risk of invasive cancer, but no increased risk of mortality.  In other words, even though your risk is increased over those withtout a diagnosis of DCIS (age, race, socioeconomically matched) the risk is still so low that you don’t have any increased risk of dying of breast cancer compared to that population."

Call me crazy, by I know for a fact that if I do have invasive breast cancer than I am at increased risk of dying of breast cancer compared to a woman that does not have breast cancer... If having DCIS puts me at risk for having invasive breast cancer, then my little brain is thinking that I surely have a higher chance of dying of breast cancer than the "control population". I'm a scientist and I study cancer. I am, you could say, an "expert"  of sorts and I use stats to get the big picture. But I am also the person making a decision that will affect the rest of my living days (and that, arguably, will not be of any importance to the control population!).

The Merriam-Webster dictionary has the following chuckle-inducing definition of expert

1: obsolete : experienced
2: having, involving, or displaying special skill or knowledge derived from training or experience

What causes me to chuckle is the obsolete part of the definition because it is so true. Most experts these days have a lot of skill and knowledge but very little life experience. It is easy to grasp this when your breast surgeons are men, or women with intact breasts.Or when your child's psychologist has never had kids of their own...
In the world of inexperienced experts I could have 1.4 children...

And that's my obsolete expert opinion on the value of statistics.


  1. see? that's why my brain refuses to let statistics in... i'll stop cursing it now. and be thankful!
    sua obsoleta!

  2. hahahaha maria, so voce.

    suzi, o mantra é: you want to live.
    lets celebrate life!
    take i off and come back HOME!!

  3. statistics are the currency of the past...but the relevant time is always in the future!

  4. put it on wax, where it can`t hurt you!