XRAYS - Making Sense of Cancer Headlines

FORCE’s eXamining the Relevance of Articles for Young Survivors (XRAYS) program is a reliable resource for breast cancer research-related news and information. XRAYS reviews new breast cancer research, provides plain-language summaries, and rates how the media covered the topic. XRAYS is funded by the CDC.

XRAYS logo and women

About XRAYS & Ratings

FORCE developed the CDC-funded eXamining the  Relevance of Articles for Young  Survivors (XRAYS) program to empower young breast cancer survivors and young women at high risk for breast cancer by providing tools that they can use to evaluate reports of new breast cancer related research. XRAYS will provide reviews and ratings of news media articles on breast cancer research to help young breast cancer survivors and high-risk women better understand research that is relevant to them.

XRAYS is a reliable resource for breast cancer related news and information. The program will help people navigate and understand news on breast cancer research in the media to empower them to understand the research and make better decisions for their health and well-being.

The content that XRAYS releases is produced by the FORCE XRAYS Team, which includes: Executive Director, Sue Friedman, DVM, Vice President of Education, Piri Welcsh, PhD, and Director of Education and Research, Kelly Owens, PhD, Vice President of Marketing, Karen Kramer, and Vice President of Advocacy, Lisa Schlager. Dr. Welcsh, is the XRAYS Scientific Review Lead.

Our XRAYS Team decides on the media articles relevant to young breast cancer survivors and high-risk women from articles submitted to the team and those that have received significant attention and have stimulated discussion in the community. Drs. Welcsh and Owens read the primary literature scientific literature. This literature is where scientists present their data and interpretations. They compare what was found in the original research and what the media article reported. Drs. Owens and Welcsh write up a summary on the original research findings and use a rating rubric developed by our team to assign ratings to the research publication as well as media articles which covered the research (see below).

Every summary is reviewed by select members of the FORCE Scientific Advisory Board, which consists of active researchers and clinicians in the fields of cancer, genetics, surgery, behavioral health, policy, and survivorship. No summary is published without first receiving approval from one or more members of the advisory board.

Rating Scale Information for Studies

XRAYS meter ratingOriginal research study articles will be rated on a scale of 1-15. These 15 points will be converted to a meter that ranges in scale from low, low/medium, medium, medium/high, to high.

5 points will be given to the overall research design accounting for:

  • An appropriate study design
  • Appropriate participants and control
  • A well-specified intervention
  • An appropriate sample size

5 points will be given to the analysis of the study accounting for:

  • Whether the data directly answer the question the researchers are asking
  • Whether their claims are supported by the data

The remaining 5 points will be awarded based on its relevance to Young Breast Cancer Survivors.

Rating Scale Information for Articles

XRAYS stars ratingMedia articles are rated on a 5 star rating scale.

To determine what rating the media article gets, XRAYS will look at whether the writing is accurate:

  • The headline matches what the article claims
  • The article does not exaggerate the research
  • Whether the article takes into account research that contradicts the story's research findings

XRAYS will also take into account how well the article was executed:

  • Does the story cite strong sources or experts in the field?
  • Clear and easy to understand writing

Finally the rating will look at how scientifically accurate the media report is:

  • The reporting is factually correct
  • Scientific terminology is used correctly and explained well
  • The research covered in the story is critically evaluated
  • Any statistics presented are correct and not misleading

Any part of a story that does not meet these criteria will result in lost points on the rating.  

XRAYS Presentations and Papers

Results from the FORCE XRAYS evaluation and survey of media use by young breast cancer survivors and young women at high risk for breast cancer have been presented at national conferences and published in peer-reviewed journals.

Pugh Yi RH, Rezende L, Dearfield CT, Welcsh P, and Friedman SJ. Results of a pilot test of effects of an online resource on lay audience understanding of media reports on breast cancer research. Health Education Journal. April 2019

Pugh-Yi RH, Rezende, Dearfield CT, Owens KN, Welcsh PL, Friedman SJ. Effects of online resource to support laypersons’ understanding of media reports on breast cancer research. Dec. 8, 2018. San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium Abstract  P6-14-08.

American Public Health Association National Meeting, November 2015: Development, Implementation, and Evaluation of the eXamining Relevance of Articles to Young Survivors (XRAYS) Program to Summarize Recent Research Findings for Young Breast Cancer Survivors: Findings from the First Year

San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, December 2015: XRAYS (eXamining Relevance of Articles to Young Survivors) Program Survey of Information Needs and Media Use by Young Breast Cancer Survivors and Young Women at High Risk for Breast Cancer

Yi RHP, Rezende LF, Huynh J, Kramer K, Cranmer M, Schlager L, Dearfield CT, Friedman SJ.  XRAYS (eXamining Relevance of Articles to Young Survivors) Program Survey of Information Needs and Media Use by Young Breast Cancer Survivors and Young Women at High-Risk for Breast Cancer.  Health Commun. 2017 Sep 28:1-6. doi: 10.1080/10410236.2017.1372051.     

Thank You to Our Partners and Funders

The FORCE XRAYS program thanks the members of our steering committee and our partner organizations: Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy and Leadership; Geographic Health Equity Alliance; Young Survival Coalition, Living Beyond Breast Cancer; National Alliance for Hispanic Health; National LGBT Cancer Network; Sharsheret; Tigerlily Foundation; Gulf States Young Breast Cancer Survivor Network for helping us establish and improve the XRAYS program.

This project was supported by the Cooperative Agreement Number, DP005404, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Department of Health and Human Services.

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