Although cancer receives a great deal of attention in the media, little is known about the main messages conveyed to readers. A content analysis of over 400 recent articles about cancer in several major US mainstream publications found that while more than half discussed “aggressive” treatments, 30% reported associated adverse effects and only 13% mentioned that these treatments can fail. End-of-life issues were rarely discussed, appearing in only 2.5% of articles. The most common articles were about breast or prostate cancer. The authors concluded that media portrayal of cancer may be inappropriately optimistic as, overall, about half of all cancer patients are known to eventually die from their disease or related complications.
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