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Cancer Care Chronicles
October 10, 2019

A Daily Struggle to Improve Kaplan-Meier Curves—Doctors on the Swing

Author Affiliations
  • 1District of General Medicine, Local Health Authority Cuneo 1 (ASL CN1), Cuneo, Italy
JAMA Oncol. 2020;6(1):27-28. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2019.3549

I have always been attracted to graphics because they are intuitive and allow us to understand any concept in a more direct way compared with other types of explanations. During my university studies, I was particularly fascinated by Kaplan-Meier survival curves: the survival rate displayed on the ordinate axis, the time displayed on the abscissa axis, and the characteristic lines lying in the middle with their stepped appearance that seemed to bend downward too laconically and inevitably. Nowadays in my everyday practice, I often find myself drawing this type of curve when I try to explain to patients the need for a specific treatment, especially when I see them disoriented and confused. Drawing on paper to explain what I am talking about is a good way to demonstrate a practical point to those patients sitting in front of me.

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