Joanne Silberner wins 2013 Best Cancer Reporter Award from the ESO

Silberner hard at work. Photos by Ansel Herz, a UW alum who worked with Silberner in Haiti.

Silberner hard at work. Photos by Ansel Herz, a UW alum who worked with Silberner in Haiti.

The European School of Oncology (ESO) has recognized Artist in Residence Joanne Silberner with its 2013 Best Cancer Reporter Award for her work in Uganda, India, and Haiti that led to a five-part radio series for Public Radio International’s (PRI) program “The World®.”  Silberner’s work also appeared in The Seattle Times and on KUOW.

Silberner shared the award with co-winner Tiffany O-Callaghan, Opinion Editor with the UK’s New Scientist magazine. The acknowledgment aims to “encourage high-quality media coverage on cancer and to recognize journalists who have a commitment to enlightening the public about important issues surrounding the disease.”

Silberner’s coverage of cancer was unique in that it focused on the growth of the disease in developing countries. Many people associate other health issues with these regions of the world, but in fact, cancer kills more people in developing countries than HIV, TB, and malaria combined.

“What I’m happiest about is that the award may bring some attention to the global burden of cancer, which is often ignored,” Silberner said.

The stories stemmed from an international symposium on cancer in developing countries that Silberner went to at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

“Before the symposium, I thought that few people in poor countries lived long enough to get cancer, and that cancer care is too complicated and expensive to deliver in low-resource areas,” she said. “Then I heard the numbers and reports from researchers in other countries. Someone pointed out that HIV/AIDS was once thought untreatable and I realized how wrong I was about cancer.”

SilbernerStory1Silberner’s trip was made possible by a travel grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, and at least part of her radio series was heard by an estimated 2.5 million people. The stories posted on the “The World®” website received over a million page views and the hashtag #globalcancer reached 1.9 million accounts with 10 million impressions within a month of the stories’ airings, Silberner wrote in her application essay.

“The stories demonstrated that cancer is not just a disease of rich countries – that it plagues people in low- and middle-income countries as well,” Silberner wrote. “My hope is that understanding will heighten efforts to vanquish cancer around the world.”