Matthew Ong is associate editor and an investigative reporter at The Cancer Letter, where his award-winning stories on the politics and business of cancer research have contributed to federal action and changes in public policy. Ong’s reporting has been recognized by the National Press Club, SPJ and eight other organizations.
Ong was selected as a 2021 AHCJ Health Performance Reporting Fellow to produce a series on the inequities in cancer care and its ruinous cost for many patients, particularly minorities, and how these disparities have only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
I spoke to Ong about the origin of the series and how he tackles such extensive, data-laden reporting and writing. Continue reading
Photo: NIH Image Gallery via FlickrElectron micrograph of two cytotoxic T cells (red) attacking an oral squamous cancer cell (white), part of a natural immune response.
If you write anything about cancer treatment, it’s nearly impossible to avoid writing about immunotherapy. But reporting on immunotherapy can quickly become complex, confusing and overwhelming. A new AHCJ tip sheet on cancer immunotherapy can help you to report effectively and appropriately on the topic.
The therapy is exactly what it sounds like. Cancer immunotherapy works to recruit the patient’s immune system to fight the cancer instead of using chemotherapy to kill cancer cells directly. Continue reading
A group of journalists will spend three partial days online with experts from the National Institutes of Health in January to increase their understanding of and ability to report accurately on complex scientific findings, provide insight into the work of cancer researchers and to better localize cancer-related stories. Continue reading
Lead time bias is a well-recognized challenge especially when it comes to studies and statistics looking at cancer screenings. As the entry on the AHCJ website explains, lead time bias is a type of bias that can “artificially inflate the survival time of someone with a disease.”
How? When providers get better at looking for — and finding — a disease, it appears to lengthen the time someone survives after diagnosis. In reality, the patient is not necessarily living longer than they would have if the disease were discovered later. It just seems like they’re living longer because the disease is identified sooner, and the “clock” on survival time starts earlier. Continue reading
Photo: National Cancer Institute
When I first began writing in health and science journalism, my biggest “micro-beat” was vaccines (and still is). I had spent more than a year in graduate school reading up on vaccines and interviewing dozens of folks in the field or tangential to it (such as parents and advocates) before I published any substantive articles about vaccines for a publication.
I was fortunate to be able to spend that time diving so deep into a single area, but it also gave me a deep appreciation for the areas I would not want to cover without being able to spend a similar amount of time studying up on them first. For years after I began working as a full-time journalist, that included anything in oncology. Continue reading