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A content analysis of news coverage of skin cancer prevention and detection, 1979-2002
Unformatted Document Text:  Skin cancer news coverage 18 Conclusion Our content analysis reveals the lack of media attention to skin cancer in general, and to prevention in particular. Despite the fact that skin cancer incidence have been steadily rising in the United States, and that it is the fastest growing cancer, media attention to skin cancer has not increased over time. Although skin cancer is largely preventable, or at least curable if detected early, primary or secondary prevention is not featured prominently within stories about skin cancer. Other researchers’ content analyses of cancer coverage in 1980 revealed that skin cancer did not appear in measurable proportions, relative to other cancer types (Freimuth et al., 1984). Our analyses support this finding: there was little to no skin cancer coverage in the early years of our analysis. While there has been an increase in media attention to skin cancer since 1980, current levels of coverage are roughly equivalent to levels from the mid-1980s. To contextualize the amount of media attention to skin cancer, we conducted a similar search (although did not review articles) for breast cancer, colon cancer, and prostate cancer. The Associated Press produced more stories about breast cancer in one year than for twenty-five years of skin cancer coverage. While media attention to prostate and colon cancer was more comparable to quantities of skin cancer coverage, both prostate and colon cancer news coverage have been steadily increasing since the late 1980s, while media attention to skin cancer has remained stagnant. While the impact of skin cancer news coverage is unknown, evidence from news coverage effects on preventive health behaviors and agenda setting research tells us that increased media attention to skin cancer will increase the likelihood of behavioral effects; i.e. more coverage is better. It has been hypothesized that media attention to breast cancer is higher than other cancer types because a number of groups (e.g. special interest groups, celebrities) have built a successful mobilization effort (Casamayou, 2001; Corbett & Mori, 1999).

Authors: Stryker, Jo. and Solky, Benjamin.
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Skin cancer news coverage
18
Conclusion
Our content analysis reveals the lack of media attention to skin cancer in general, and to
prevention in particular. Despite the fact that skin cancer incidence have been steadily rising in
the United States, and that it is the fastest growing cancer, media attention to skin cancer has
not increased over time. Although skin cancer is largely preventable, or at least curable if
detected early, primary or secondary prevention is not featured prominently within stories
about skin cancer. Other researchers’ content analyses of cancer coverage in 1980 revealed that
skin cancer did not appear in measurable proportions, relative to other cancer types (Freimuth
et al., 1984). Our analyses support this finding: there was little to no skin cancer coverage in the
early years of our analysis. While there has been an increase in media attention to skin cancer
since 1980, current levels of coverage are roughly equivalent to levels from the mid-1980s. To
contextualize the amount of media attention to skin cancer, we conducted a similar search
(although did not review articles) for breast cancer, colon cancer, and prostate cancer. The
Associated Press produced more stories about breast cancer in one year than for twenty-five
years of skin cancer coverage. While media attention to prostate and colon cancer was more
comparable to quantities of skin cancer coverage, both prostate and colon cancer news coverage
have been steadily increasing since the late 1980s, while media attention to skin cancer has
remained stagnant.
While the impact of skin cancer news coverage is unknown, evidence from news
coverage effects on preventive health behaviors and agenda setting research tells us that
increased media attention to skin cancer will increase the likelihood of behavioral effects; i.e.
more coverage is better. It has been hypothesized that media attention to breast cancer is
higher than other cancer types because a number of groups (e.g. special interest groups,
celebrities) have built a successful mobilization effort (Casamayou, 2001; Corbett & Mori, 1999).


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