Cancer News is Potentially Misleading, Penn Researchers Find

March 19, 2010

Penn Medicine News Release

PHILADELPHIA – News coverage of aggressive cancer treatments may give the public unrealistic hope that these treatments actually work. Additionally, news about treatment failure, adverse events, and end-of-life care are covered far less by the news media.

These are some of the findings of a study by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania. The team looked at news stories about cancer that were reported in major news magazines and large city daily newspapers. Their findings showed:

  • Although 32 percent of the articles focused on survival, only 8 percent covered death and dying; this despite the fact that half of all cancer patients will die of their illness.
  • While most stories discussed aggressive cancer treatments, almost none (2 percent) discussed end-of-life, palliative or hospice care.
  • 13 percent reported that aggressive cancer treatments can fail, and just 30 percent reported that aggressive treatments can result in adverse effects... read more

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