News coverage of cancer in the United States: a national sample of newspapers, television, and magazines

J Health Commun. 2008 Sep;13(6):523-37. doi: 10.1080/10810730802279571.


A content analysis of cancer news coverage in a sample of local and national newspapers, television, and magazines was conducted for the years 2002 and 2003. Analyses compared proportions of mentions of cancer sites with proportional contribution to cancer incidence and mortality based on available epidemiological estimates. Analyses also examined relative attention provided to prevention, detection, treatment, causes, and outcomes of various cancers. Results indicated that coverage reflected incidence rates more closely than they did mortality rates, but in both cases coverage under-represented the contribution of lung cancer to morbidity and mortality and over-represented the contribution of breast cancer. Of greater public health concern was the limited coverage of prevention and detection even for highly preventable or relatively easily detected cancers. Implications of findings are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Bibliometrics
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Mass Media*
  • Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms* / psychology
  • United States / epidemiology