Word of the Week: floccinaucinihilipilificationism

ML learned a new word upon reading the newspaper: floccinaucinihilipilificationism. According to the New York Times now, Moynihan prided himself on coining the 32-letter mouthful, by which he meant “the futility of making estimates on the accuracy of public data.”

She’s not exactly sure how the term, said to be the longest non-technical word in the English language, might be used in medical communication, but it seems that it might be relevant to estimating health care costs, and – possibly by extrapolation – to understanding the hidden ambiguousness of inferences drawn from vast amounts of seemingly hard data.

A Small Study Offers Insight On Breast Cancer Patients’ Capacity and Eagerness to Participate in Medical Decisions

Last week the journal Cancer published a small but noteworthy report on women’s experiences with a relatively new breast cancer decision tool called Oncotype DX. This lab-based technology, which has not received FDA approval, takes a piece of a woman’s tumor and, by measuring expression of 21 genes within, estimates the likelihood, or risk, that her tumor will recur.

As things stand, women who receive a breast cancer diagnosis face difficult decisions…

A Bit More on False Positives, Dec 2009, Part 1

Why bother, you might ask – wouldn’t it be easier to drop the subject?

“Make it go away,” sang Sheryl Crow on her radiation sessions.

I’ll answer as might a physician and board-certified oncologist who happens to be a BC survivor in her 40s: we need establish how often false positives lead, in current practice, to additional procedures and inappropriate treatment…These numbers matter. They’re essential to the claim that the risks of breast cancer screening outweigh the benefits.

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