By Amy Norton
The researchers analyzed 264 cancer-focused stories that ran in any of four urban newspapers with a mostly African-American readership, or any of four African-American magazines, including Ebony and Essence. They found that none of the stories discussed hospice care.
In addition, only 14 percent mentioned the adverse effects of cancer therapies, and just 4 percent noted that cancer treatment can fail to cure.
It's not clear why African-American media were particularly unlikely to cover the negative sides of cancer treatment, or to cover hospice care at all.
And it's also not clear, Fishman said, that the lack of media coverage actually affects terminally ill cancer patients' decisions on treatment.
But she argued that patients, and the public in general, should get a more balanced portrayal of cancer in the media. "Lance Armstrong-like survival stories do not reflect the reality of many patients," Fishman said.
It's estimated that about half of Americans diagnosed with cancer will not survive the disease, Fishman and her colleagues note in the report. And African Americans tend to have higher death rates from cancer than other racial groups.
"I'd like to see the media not only offer people hope and hype, but some help as well," Fishman said.