Talking with the Public About Cancer: The Cancer Information Service Vicki S. Freimuth, Judith A. Stein, and Thomas J. Kean
We hear a lot about cancer. The news media bombard us with headlines such as "No Way to Avoid Cancer-Causing Agents" and "Tap Water Linked to Cancer." Public service announcements on television educate us about the seven warning signs of cancer and urge us to examine our breasts, stop smoking, eat less fat and more fiber. In recent years even commercial sponsors such as Kellogg's cereal company promote their products based on cancer prevention claims. All this information does not necessarily produce educated consumers. Instead, consumers are frequently confused and frustrated. For example, the public may feel more hopeful about having some control over cancer risk when they hear the National Cancer Institute's (NCI) "Good News" Cancer Prevention Awareness Campaign. These hopes may be dashed quickly when the same media turn around and report studies claiming we are losing the war on cancer.