Use of the Word “Cure” in the Oncology Literature

Vinay Prasad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Purpose: “Cure” is an important word in oncology but its use in the published literature has not been examined. I investigated all oncology articles using cure in the title field and published in 2012. The definition of cure was examined, specifically whether or not authors use the word to connote some surviving subset of patients who go on to experience outcomes similar to age-matched, normal controls—a definition favored by researchers and employed in survival function analyses. Methods: All articles published between January 1, 2012, and December 31, 2012, with the word cure in the title field were retrieved from Thompson Reuters’ Web of Science. After exclusions, articles were read in full to examine what definitions of cure was used. Additionally, for each situation (type of cancer, stage/grade) where the word cure was used, a literature search was performed to ascertain whether there existed documented cases of cure. Results: Twenty-nine oncology articles used the word cure in their title in 2012. Nearly half, 14 (48%) of 29, used the term in situations (cancer type, stage/grade) currently considered incurable. Approximately one-third (34.5%) of the articles used the word consistent with the definition that, after a set period of time, some surviving subset of patients experience survival similar to normal controls. Conclusion: There is heterogeneity in the use of the word cure in the literature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)477-483
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Aug 11 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • cancer care
  • cure
  • excellence
  • language
  • oncology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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