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Median overall survival – what does it actually mean?

Forums General Melanoma Community Median overall survival – what does it actually mean?

  • Post
    claudia-uk
    Participant

    I read some press release in regards to the FDA approval of Ipilimumab/Yervoy and wonder what the survival times actually mean. I can't find mcuh consolation in a survival time of 6 months ot 10months

    The study compared ipilimumab treatment with an experimental tumor vaccine (gp100), gp100 alone, and ipilimumab alone. Median overall survival was 10 months among those who received ipilimumab plus the vaccine, 10.1 months among those who received ipilimumab alone, and 6.4 months among those who received the vaccine alone.

    I read some press release in regards to the FDA approval of Ipilimumab/Yervoy and wonder what the survival times actually mean. I can't find mcuh consolation in a survival time of 6 months ot 10months

    The study compared ipilimumab treatment with an experimental tumor vaccine (gp100), gp100 alone, and ipilimumab alone. Median overall survival was 10 months among those who received ipilimumab plus the vaccine, 10.1 months among those who received ipilimumab alone, and 6.4 months among those who received the vaccine alone.

    If it is some kind of average, how does it work?

    Thanks!

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  • Replies
      James from Sydney
      Participant

      From what i understand it is the mid point so half the people live longer than the median

      best wishes

      James

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      James from Sydney
      Participant

      From what i understand it is the mid point so half the people live longer than the median

      best wishes

      James

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      Sharyn
      Participant

      Hi Claudia,

      James is right on the meaning of median survival, but PLEASE, don't dwell on statistics, or it will drive you insane! You have to put everything in perspective. Stats are just numbers, and someone else's numbers, not yours. Plus, they are numbers from the past, and life doesn't work backwards. As we move forward, new and more effective treatments are coming out. And don't forget, a treatment that fails on one patient might work wonders on another. I was given 3 years at diagnosis — that was in March 2006. In 2008, I was told I had a 20% chance of still being alive in 2 years. Last year I was told that statistically, I shouldn't still be alive. I've been through a lot, been very involved in finding and deciding my own treatments (like clinical trials), and even after 5 years, to look at me, you'd never know I had a thing wrong with me. I've got lots of battle scars, but I am fully functional and active. So forget the stats and concentrate on learning as much as you can about this disease so you can make informed decisions for yourself. By the way, always, ALWAYS get a copy of every report — scans, x-rays, bloodwork, clinic notes, etc — EVERYTHING!!! It's a great help to keep track of things, plus it's a phenomenal learning tool, as you can google all the medical terminology and piece the puzzle together in a way you understand it, or you can post it here where many people can help explain it to you. Good luck!

      Hugs

      Sharyn, Stage IV

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      Sharyn
      Participant

      Hi Claudia,

      James is right on the meaning of median survival, but PLEASE, don't dwell on statistics, or it will drive you insane! You have to put everything in perspective. Stats are just numbers, and someone else's numbers, not yours. Plus, they are numbers from the past, and life doesn't work backwards. As we move forward, new and more effective treatments are coming out. And don't forget, a treatment that fails on one patient might work wonders on another. I was given 3 years at diagnosis — that was in March 2006. In 2008, I was told I had a 20% chance of still being alive in 2 years. Last year I was told that statistically, I shouldn't still be alive. I've been through a lot, been very involved in finding and deciding my own treatments (like clinical trials), and even after 5 years, to look at me, you'd never know I had a thing wrong with me. I've got lots of battle scars, but I am fully functional and active. So forget the stats and concentrate on learning as much as you can about this disease so you can make informed decisions for yourself. By the way, always, ALWAYS get a copy of every report — scans, x-rays, bloodwork, clinic notes, etc — EVERYTHING!!! It's a great help to keep track of things, plus it's a phenomenal learning tool, as you can google all the medical terminology and piece the puzzle together in a way you understand it, or you can post it here where many people can help explain it to you. Good luck!

      Hugs

      Sharyn, Stage IV

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        Oncnurselovesjc
        Participant

        Sharyn, I love your perspective. Sometimes getting caught up in the stats can be dismal. Attitude is so important! No one can tell us exactly how long we have on this earth. <3

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      KatyWI
      Participant

      Median is midpoint.  Here's a made-up example.  Suppose the numbers below are the number of months people lived.  And let's say for kicks that the trial was 3 years ago.

      1  2  5  6  6  10  10  12  15  36  36  36  36

      The number in the middle is 10.  So the median survival is 10 months.  But look at the four people on the end – they're still alive at the end of the trial.  Who knows how long they'll live?  Maybe 50 years!  Maybe not.

      Median is helpful to statisticians, but for us patients, the numbers are almost meaningless.  What we really want to know is did I, personally, respond to a treatment, and how long will that response last for me, an individual.  And the numbers don't tell us that.

      I hope this helps a little.

      KatyWI

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        claudia-uk
        Participant

        Thank you so much for your replies!  The 10 months really scared me!!

        I do understand what you are writing and what you  mean, especially Sharyn. I tend to read too much on the internet and all those statistics are indeed frightening.

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        lhaley
        Participant

        I saw on your profile that your husbands primary was mucosal.  Has he been tested for C-Kit?  There is a chance that gleevec would work for him.  That's a drug that they have found for patients with mucosal melanoma.  Jerry from Fauq has been on it for 2 years now holding him steady.  Jerry doesn't come to the board that often anymore but if you put mucosal as the topic he is sure to see it when he come!

        Linda

        Stage IV since 06

        stable

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        claudia-uk
        Participant

        Yes, he was tested for c-kit, but is negative unfortunateley.

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        claudia-uk
        Participant

        Yes, he was tested for c-kit, but is negative unfortunateley.

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        lhaley
        Participant

        I saw on your profile that your husbands primary was mucosal.  Has he been tested for C-Kit?  There is a chance that gleevec would work for him.  That's a drug that they have found for patients with mucosal melanoma.  Jerry from Fauq has been on it for 2 years now holding him steady.  Jerry doesn't come to the board that often anymore but if you put mucosal as the topic he is sure to see it when he come!

        Linda

        Stage IV since 06

        stable

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        claudia-uk
        Participant

        Thank you so much for your replies!  The 10 months really scared me!!

        I do understand what you are writing and what you  mean, especially Sharyn. I tend to read too much on the internet and all those statistics are indeed frightening.

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      KatyWI
      Participant

      Median is midpoint.  Here's a made-up example.  Suppose the numbers below are the number of months people lived.  And let's say for kicks that the trial was 3 years ago.

      1  2  5  6  6  10  10  12  15  36  36  36  36

      The number in the middle is 10.  So the median survival is 10 months.  But look at the four people on the end – they're still alive at the end of the trial.  Who knows how long they'll live?  Maybe 50 years!  Maybe not.

      Median is helpful to statisticians, but for us patients, the numbers are almost meaningless.  What we really want to know is did I, personally, respond to a treatment, and how long will that response last for me, an individual.  And the numbers don't tell us that.

      I hope this helps a little.

      KatyWI

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