The battle against cancer


Sir, - K. Humphries (December 23rd) makes the valid point that "the public awareness programmes for prostate cancer is minuscule compared with that of breast cancer".

This is true, but it is important to realise that in women's cancer, knowledge of the disease is low. In the recently-launched study Caring about Women and Cancer (CAWAC), 80 per cent of 701 women questioned indicated that they knew very little about cancer prior to their diagnosis. More importantly, of the 20 per cent who knew some facts, 70 to 75 per cent learned this from the media - TV, radio, magazines and newspapers - with fewer than 20 per cent acquiring knowledge from medical professional bodies or cancer agencies.

This highlights the important role and responsibility of the media in communicating information to the public about cancer prevention through early detection measures, identification of risk factors and effective treatments available. I note that these issues have been well identified in your Editorial of December 23rd. - Yours, etc.,

James Fennelly, Chairman of the National Cancer Forum, and Chief Advisor to the Department of Health and Children, Department of Health, Hawkins Street, Dublin 2.