Saturday, December 20, 2014

Too much good news on Cancer?

On Monday my colleague Tom Avril will report on a University of Pennsylvania study that found the news media portray cancer treatment and outcomes too positively. News stories about cancer patients are much more rare than the reality, the researchers found.

Too much good news on Cancer?

So I thought it would be a good idea to get away for a few weeks after a rough winter and lots of snow. So we got to Denver yesterday and headed for the mountains. It was 70 degrees when we landed. Now its snowing horizontally, the skiing should be good this weekend. While I’m gone I’ll post periodically.

On Monday my colleague Tom Avril will report on a University of Pennsylvania study that found the news media portray cancer treatment and outcomes too positively. News stories about cancer patients are much more rare than the reality, the researchers found.

Here’s what my colleague’s piece:

Newspapers and magazines, which are sometimes accused of dwelling on the negative, may be suffering from the opposite problem when it comes to coverage of cancer. That’s the conclusion of University of Pennsylvania researchers who reviewed a sample of 436 articles about the disease.

Of those articles, 140 focused on people surviving or being cured, while just 33 focused on people who were dead or dying. In reality, half of all patients with cancer will die of the illness or related complications, according to the researchers, who published their findings in Monday’s issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Just 57 of the 436 news articles reported that aggressive cancer treatments can fail to cure the disease or extend a patient’s life. Less than a third of the articles said that treatments can result in unwanted side effects. The Penn researchers said such coverage can lead patients to have unrealistic expectations.

The articles came from five national magazines and eight large newspapers, including the Inquirer and Daily News.

About this blog

Check Up covers regional health news and a wide array of healthcare topics from pharmaceutical happenings to patient safety. Read about some of our bloggers here.

Portions of this blog may also be found in the Inquirer's Sunday Health Section

Michael R. Cohen, R.Ph. President, Institute for Safe Medication Practices
Daniel R. Hoffman, Ph.D. President, Pharmaceutical Business Research Associates
Hooman Noorchashm, M.D., Ph.D. Cardiothoracic surgeon in the Philadelphia area
Amy J. Reed, M.D., Ph.D. Dual Board Certified Anesthesiologist and Surgical Intensivist
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