In the last Publisher’s Note, I wrote about our reviews of six stories by six different news organizations on a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine about CAT scan screening for lung cancer in smokers.
U.S. News & World Report – one star
NBC Nightly News – two stars
Overall, then, of the eight stories we reviewed on this topic:
* 6 of 8 failed to adequately discuss potential harms of such screening, which can include radiation exposure, needless anxiety after receiving a potentially false positive result and significant medical complications associated with biopsies.
* 6 of 8 stories failed to adequately address the availability of CAT scan machines that can be used for the lung cancer screening described.
* 4 of 8 stories failed to discuss the costs of such screening, which were discussed in the journal article upon which the stories were based. Estimates range from $200 to $1,000 per scan, so this is a significant issue that half the stories ignored.
* 5 of 8 stories relied on a single source (relying only on authors of the published study) and/or failed to present balanced, independent perspectives.
Each story was reviewed by three independent reviewers using the same evaluation criteria.
We will continue to look for such cross-media comparisons and hope you find the reviews helpful.