Nurse criticizes Strib for promoting cancer magic bullet

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First, this is not “beat up on the Star Tribune week.” There’s no agenda here. Sometimes events and patterns unfold before one’s eyes.

On Monday, in my “Proportionality in Journalism” entry, I wrote about Mother’s Day weekend stories in several media – “endless weapy stories about breast cancer. But few hard issue-oriented stories about breast cancer. About the dilemmas in diagnosis and treatment, in funding, in consumer decision-making.”

Today, a woman who describes herself as a veteran oncology nurse has a letter to the editor in the Star Tribune.

She writes: “As a longtime oncology nurse, I was pleased to see the May 15 front-page story about the Susan Komen Race for the Cure. As the name of the event implies, there is not yet a cure for metastatic breast cancer. This important fact was then obscured by the reporter’s choice to focus on a young woman who is seeking treatment unsupported by the type of rigorous scientific study that the Komen Foundation funds. The story pulls at the heartstrings, but fails to inform us about proven treatments and the progress that has been made in prolonging and improving the lives of women with breast cancer. A physician who offers his treatment as the ‘only hope’ is, sadly, too good to be true.”

Her letter is a call for evidence-based medical reporting. And proportionality. That’s the backbone of my week-long tirade about what I’ve seen – and not seen – in Twin Cities health news this week.

It may be time to listen to the readers and viewers. They’re not happy. That may be why readership and viewership are declining.

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