The Long-run Impact of New Medical Ideas on Cancer Survival and Mortality

from Health Economics at on December 31, 2018 at 11:23AM

I investigate whether the types of cancer (breast, colon, lung, etc.) subject to greater penetration of new ideas had larger subsequent survival gains and mortality reductions, controlling for changing incidence. I use the MEDLINE/PubMED database, which contains more than 23 million references to journal articles published in 5400 leading biomedical journals, to construct longitudinal measures of the penetration of new medical ideas. The 5-year survival rate is strongly positively related to the novelty of ideas in articles published 12-24 years earlier. This finding is consistent with evidence from case studies that it takes a long time for research evidence to reach clinical practice. The estimates suggest that about 70% of the 1994-2008 increase in the 5-year observed survival rate for all cancer sites combined may have been due to the increase in the novelty of medical ideas 12-24 years earlier. The number of years of potential life lost from cancer before ages 80 and 70 are inversely related to the novelty of ideas in articles published 12-24 years earlier, conditional on incidence. The increase in medical idea novelty was estimated to have caused a 38% decline in the premature (before age 80) cancer mortality rate 12-24 years later.