I know "Low odds" means something is likely, and "high odds" means something is unlikely. But in this sentence, "your odds of survival are greatly reduced" is confusing. Does it mean I am more likely to live or die?

Now, we're all aware that an early diagnosis that is accurate is critical for survival. The problem is that many cancer diagnostic tools are invasive, costly, often inaccurate and they can take an agonizing amount of time to get the results back. Still worse, when it comes to some forms of cancer, such as ovarian, liver or pancreatic cancer, good screening methods simply don't exist, meaning that often people wait until physical symptoms surface, which are themselves already indicators of late-stage progression. Like a tornado strike in an area without an early warning system, there is no alarm to warn, for the danger is already at your doorstep when your odds of survival are greatly reduced. Having the convenience and accessibility of regular screening options that are affordable, noninvasive and could provide results much sooner, would provide us with a formidable weapon in the fight against cancer.

New nanotech to detect cancer early https://www.ted.com/talks/joshua_smith_new_nanotech_to_catch_cancer_early

  • Which is better: Odds of surviving a traffic accident being 1 in 10 or 9 in 10? Which is lower?
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 12, 2018 at 12:17
  • @HotLicks Because low odds means something is more likely, lower odds must be 9/10. So in this sentence, does it mean you are more likely to survive? I guess the speaker was confused between short odds and long odds. Mar 12, 2018 at 12:33
  • That's a very peculiar sentence, no matter what the intended meaning. Mar 12, 2018 at 12:47
  • 2
    Low odds normally means unlikely. The opposite is better expressed as high chances.
    – Lawrence
    Mar 12, 2018 at 12:59
  • 1
    That’s talking about ‘betting’ odds, which are said to be expressed as odds against. The odds in favour of something happening or the odds for an outcome are expressed the other way. If you said something had high or low odds, it would normally be understood to refer to the odds of that happening, not the odds against that happening. The quote uses the phrase odds of survival, which definitely conveys the sense of low=>unlikely.
    – Lawrence
    Mar 12, 2018 at 13:21


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