CBS' Jon LaPook, a practicing gastroenterologist, emphasized that the greatest progress in preventing deaths was in his own field, colon cancer. He properly gave credit to his anchor Katie Couric--"I hate to embarrass you"--for raising awareness of the need for colonoscopies, which LaPook performs, to prevent that cancer from turning lethal. ABC's in-house doctor Timothy Johnson (no link) concurred that colonoscopies were key--but refrained from offering Couric a hat tip. Johnson also gave credit to basic research conducted by the National Cancer Institute. He objected to the President's taking credit for his administration's leadership of the NCI. Under George Bush's budgets, Johnson noted, NCI funding is being cut.
NBC and ABC also assigned regular non-physician reporters to the cancer story. ABC's John McKenzie (subscription required) cited earlier detection and improvements in treatments: in 1996 there was only one drug approved for colorectal cancer; nowadays seven are available. NBC's Robert Bazell stated that the falling lung cancer death rate is a consequence, 20 years later, of millions of men having quit smoking: "Unfortunately more women have continued to smoke so their lung cancer deaths have continued to rise." He warned that if the general trend towards obesity continues, the killing trend will resume. "Being overweight increases the risk for all kinds of cancers."
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