I’m a few days late to this, but a recent Health News Review blog entry shares the views of a cancer survivor who took issue with the headline on a press release about a new cancer study. The headline highlighted a possible link between lymphoma treatment and stomach-cancer risk, and reading it made this woman feel “like someone punched me in the gut.” As she wrote to blogger Gary Schwitzer:
Putting such a headline in a publication available to the lay public creates an unnecessary threat of anxiety to patients who’ve already suffered a great deal.
I’m not a medical professional and don’t pretend to have the background necessary to understand these things, but it seems as though it’s unnecessarily scary.
As someone who writes about medical research for a living, I took note of her comments. Though it’s my job to report on study findings – even the potentially scary ones – I need to be mindful of how readers will interpret what I’m writing and what they’ll walk away with. “Scientific candor is essential, but so is perspective,” the woman (rightly) notes.