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The cancer diagnosis that has gripped America

The unpredictability of cancer may partly explain the media obsession with the wife of a presidential candidate

I have been surprised by the extensive and continuing media coverage of the announcement that Elizabeth Edwards, wife of the US presidential candidate John Edwards, has recurrent breast cancer. It was front page news here when it was announced. The Edwards's decision to continue his campaign despite the cancer was then analysed and discussed endlessly, with multiple follow-up stories and interviews in the newspapers, on the network news programmes, and in the blogosphere. Why all the fuss?
First, a bit of background. John Edwards, a former US senator, ran for president in 2004 and was beaten by John Kerry, who then picked him as his vice presidential running mate. On election day 2004 Mrs Edwards found out that she had breast cancer. She subsequently had surgery and radiation therapy and was pronounced cured. John Edwards is running again for president in the 2008 election and generally has been third in public opinion polls, after Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama.
Further relevant background. The Edwards's had two teenage …


Kamerow, D. (2007). The cancer diagnosis that has gripped America. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 334, 776. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39175.660637.59