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Mishandling Misconduct: The NSABP Lumpectomy Trial

Kay Dickersin, PhD
JAMA. 1994;272(15):1168. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03520150033023.
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To the Editor.  —Dr Rennie1 was right on target in his editorial comments. His Editorial on what went wrong in the NSABP misconduct case highlights numerous areas, within the scientific process in general and the NSABP specifically, in need of critical examination and revision.The process of understanding what happened in this unfortunate episode has strayed considerably from the mark, however. At a recent international professional meeting I attended, the head of the NSABP, Dr Bernard Fisher, was praised and the "bully boys" at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) were excoriated for their respective roles in spearheading important breast cancer trials and in impaling Fisher. The scientific and medical community appears all too ready to focus on the individuals involved and not the more critical issue of where the system broke down and the ways in which it should be modified so that similar problems do not occur in


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