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Times should educate readers on lung cancer

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http://www.contracostatimes.com/mld/cct ... 296076.htm

By Janet Rhodes


THE DEATH of Dana Reeve in early March saddened me. But I was heartened to see that several major news outlets, including CNN, Nightline, NBC, and US News and World Report devoted headline stories to coverage of lung cancer.

Because I had recently written an article on this disease (Women Lift Smokescreen on Lung Cancer, which was published in the November 2005 issue of Bay Area BusinessWoman, www.babwnews.com), I was aware that it deserves far more media attention than it receives.

When I picked up my March 8 issue of the Times, I had hoped to see more coverage of lung cancer. Instead the front page was devoted to free wireless Internet in Concord, yet one more sports doping scandal, and the murder trial of a local housewife.

I could not find any news about Dana Reeve until page 13 -- a brief reprint of a Washington Post article.

When I read the article, I was even more surprised to see this regrettable word choice: She said she had never smoked.

This is the double curse of lung cancer. Its victims are regarded with suspicion, as if they had brought the disease upon themselves.

Do we cover other diseases by saying: He got diabetes even though he said he exercises, or she had a heart attack even though she claimed she had her cholesterol tested?

And the media ignore it even though it is the No. 1 cancer killer. Lung cancer will kill more people this year than melanoma and cancers of the breast, prostate, colon, liver and kidney -- combined.

Sixty percent of new lung cancer cases are diagnosed in people who either never smoked or who have already quit smoking, including some who quit decades ago.

Women are more susceptible than men to lung cancer; 80 percent of lifelong nonsmokers diagnosed with lung cancer are women. (www.lungcanceralliance.org, www.joanslegacy.org, and www.cdc.gov/cancer/lung/statistics.htm.)

I am disappointed that the Times missed an opportunity to educate its readers about lung cancer.

But I am aware that it took years for AIDS and breast cancer to receive serious media coverage.

I hope that the next time this issue surfaces, the Times will give it the coverage it deserves.

Rhodes lives in Walnut Creek.

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Lung Cancer is the Breast Cancer of the new millenium I believe. Too bad we can't fundraise like breast cancer though!!

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