Despite the large volume of films that deal, the fact is that most offer an unrealistic image of the cancer disease, and very few show the real possibilities of healing, according to a study by researchers at the University of Rome "La Sapienza".
While more and more advances in cancer treatment and the chances of cure are higher, the survival of the actors concerned is a rare event in cinema. "The fact that the person fails to overcome the disease and die is sometimes useful for the plot of the movie" argues Luciano Fiore, who presented the results of their work at the Congress of the European Society of Medicine Oncology held in Vienna. "Patients in the movies do not usually survive. Fortunately, this is beginning to be different in real life," he adds.
The researchers analyzed 82 films focusing on people with cancer. In recent years, the films have addressed different aspects of the disease, from epidemiology and environmental causes of cancer, in films like Erin Brockovich, to the economic implications of therapies and treatment of symptoms as in self-defense and Choose a love.
In the films analyzed, 40 characters with cancer were women and 35 men. In 21 of them the type of cancer was not mentioned. Symptoms appear in 72 percent of the films, while tests for diagnosis were mentioned by 65 percent. The most common treatment was chemotherapy and in 63 percent of the affected films did not survive.
Interestingly, Hollywood does not seem interested in the most common types of cancer. "Breast cancer does not usually appear in the films, although it has much impact among women," says Fiore. "But other cancers predominate are rarer, such as leukemia, lymphoma and brain tumors."
Nevertheless, the researchers acknowledge that the film could have a very positive impact for both patients and doctors themselves. "The use of the big screen as a tool to tell stories about cancer can help raise awareness about the magnitude of the problem and to present the new therapies available," says the scientist. "In addition, oncologists can become more aware of the problems faced in the therapeutic field: cancer and sexuality, relationship between patient and medical staff, the side effects of therapies, etc."