Summary of Action
TINA.org conducted a review of patient testimonials used to promote the 50 cancer treatment centers in the U.S. that spent the most money on advertising in 2017. Our results revealed that, of the cancer centers still in business in 2018, 43 out of 48 – or 90% – deceptively used patient testimonials in their marketing materials by promoting anecdotal, atypical patient results without clearly and conspicuously disclosing what the generally expected results for a patient in a similar situation would be.
Specifically, TINA.org’s investigation found hundreds of testimonials featuring patients with cancer types that have a less than 50 percent five-year survival rate, being used in direct-to-consumer marketing materials to advance the narrative, either explicitly or implicitly, that treatment at a specific cancer center will provide patients with a therapeutic advantage, allowing them to beat the odds and live beyond five years. Moreover, within this sampling of deceptive testimonials many also promote clinical trials (i.e., research endeavors with no guarantee of therapeutic benefit), as well as novel treatments, such as immunotherapy and/or experimental procedures, without clearly and conspicuously disclosing their limitations, risks and relative rarity.
TINA.org’s findings are all available in our database.
Each of the centers at issue was notified of TINA.org’s findings. However, one of the centers — Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) — was also the subject of a TINA.org complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission as it was previously investigated by the Commission in 1996 and subject to a consent order at that time that prohibited it from, among other things, using patient testimonials that misrepresent the typical experience of its patients. For more information about TINA.org’s complaint against CTCA, click here.