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Cancer

18 March 2010

Cancer articles tend to focus on positive outcomes

People often complain that media reports slant towards bad news, but when it comes to cancer most newspaper and magazine stories may be overly optimistic, U.S. researchers suggest.

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The University of Pennsylvania team analyzed 436 cancer-related stories published in eight large newspapers and five national magazines between 2005 and 2007. The articles were most likely to focus on breast cancer (35 percent) or prostate cancer (nearly 15 percent), while 20 percent discussed cancer in general.

  • Only 13 percent (57 articles) mentioned that some cancers are incurable and aggressive cancer treatments may not extend life.
  • Less than one-third (131 articles) mentioned the negative side effects associated with cancer treatments (such as nausea, pain or hair loss).
  • While more than half (249 articles, or 57 percent) reported on aggressive treatments exclusively, only two discussed end-of-life care exclusively and only 11 reported on both aggressive treatments and end-of-life care.

 

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CANSA’s purpose is to lead the fight against cancer in South Africa. Its mission is to be the preferred non-profit organisation that enables research, educates the public and provides support to all people affected by cancer. Questions are answered by CANSA’s Head of Health Professor Michael Herbst. For more information, visit cansa.org.za.

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