Media representations of cancer neglect an important risk factor: Age

Age and older adults are largely obscured in media representations of cancer, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Public Health. It is important that older adults appreciate their heightened risk of cancer, as a lack of awareness may have a negative impact on early presentation and detection, a team of researchers led by the University of Glasgow Institute of Health and Wellbeing suggest.

Dr Sara Macdonald, the corresponding author said: “Age is an increasingly important risk factor for cancer. Almost three quarters of those who receive a diagnosis are over 60 and an increasing number are over 75. Yet, the importance of age is rarely addressed in stories about cancer and older adults are significantly under-represented. We looked at print media coverage two time periods – 2003-04 and 2013-14 – because we hypothesised that as life expectancy increases, age would grow in importance in media representations of cancer but we found the opposite.”

The authors analysed representations of four common cancers – breast, colorectal, lung and prostate cancer – in 800 articles from four UK national daily newspapers and their Sunday counterparts: Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph, Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday, Daily


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