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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Lion Still Roars: Teddy Kennedy & survival predictions

A year ago, Senator Teddy Kennedy's doctors told him he had 90 days to live. The senator pledged at the Democratic Convention in July that he would participate in Barack Obama's inauguration in January, and he did. We anticipate the arrival very soon of the Senate's universal health care bill, his long-time dream. "The lion still roars," as the Boston Herald's front-page headline of a story on Saturday by Hillary Chabot and Dave Wedge reports.

Doctors' predictions of how long a terminal patient has to live are often wrong. Indeed, these predictions only have "small associations" with survival times, according to a systematic review article that examined 24 studies. Dr. Antonio Vigano and his colleagues published their analysis of studies of terminal cancer patients in Palliative Medicine, a medical journal.

Advice to those hearing grim predictions of their survival time: Take it with a grain of salt, and savor Teddy Kennedy's example.

Read last year’s Teddy Kennedy story.

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