The words cure and hope are important terms in oncology, reflecting a balance of aspirations and realism for physicians and patients. Yet, some have suggested that oncologists are reluctant to use these terms. We tested this hypothesis by performing a bibliometric analysis of the frequency of use of these words in JAMA Oncology (JAMA Oncol) and the Journal of Clinical Oncology (JCO). The text of all articles in 3 categories—primary research, editorials, and narrative essays—appearing in JCO from 2000 to 2018 and in JAMA Oncol from 2015 to 2019 was analyzed. These analyses compared, across these categories, the proportion of articles containing the words cure and hope, as well as the proportion of total sentences containing these words. There were statistically significant differences in frequency of the use of the terms cure and hope as a function of the type of article published in the JCO and JAMA Oncol (2-sided P values ranging from .005 to <.001). Results were similar for both journals, with minor exceptions. Both hope and cure were used in a greater number of articles and sentences in the narrative and editorial categories than in primary research. Moreover, hope was used more often in narrative essays than in editorials. The relative reluctance to use these terms in more scientifically oriented original reports, despite concomitant improvements in oncologic outcomes, may reflect a bias worthy of future exploration.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research