Breast Cancer and the Internet
This is preaching to the choir, as they say, as anyone who is reading this blog clearly uses the internet as a source of information about breast cancer. The web has changed many things about life, but the easy availability of health information is one of the biggies. Many women now arrive at their doctor's office with piles of printed articles, lists of questions from other articles, and perhaps too much information about breast cancer.
Everyone has different information needs and learning styles. Some women want to know everything and avidly research the details. Others want to know as little as possible and trust their doctors recommendations and conversations. For those of us who want more and spend time on the internet, there surely are some caveats. As we know, anyone can post anything, and there is plenty out there which is scary and just plain wrong. Good general advice is to stick with the "org"s and "edu"s, spending little or no time on the "com"s. Anything that sounds too good to be true probably isn't true. Be especially skeptical of anything that involves sending money. A list of good, honest, reliable websites would include the NIC (www.cancer.gov), the American Cancer Society (www.cancer.org), Living Beyond Breast Cancer (www.lbbc.org), Cancer Net from ASCO (www.cancer.net), Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation (www.komen.org), the National Breast Cancer Coalition (www.breastcancerdeadline2020.org), and Y-Me (www.y-me.org).
These thoughts were stimulated by this article from The Breast about the usage of internet breast cancer sites. Here is the abstract and a link if you would like to read more:
Who's talking about breast cancer? Analysis of daily breast cancer posts on the internet
Edel M. Quinn a,*, Mark A. Corrigan a, Seamus M. McHugh b, David Murphy c, John O'Mullane c, Arnold D. Hill b, Henry Paul Redmond a
Objective: Breast cancer is the cancer most commonly searched for on the internet. Our aim was to assess daily new breast cancer related posting on the internet.
Methods: We analyzed numbers of new daily posts for common cancers for one month and subsequently analyzed content of 1426 breast cancer related posts. We also assessed use of online discussion forums for breast cancer related dialogue.
Results: Breast related topics had significantly more posts per day compared to others (mean 66.7,p < 0.01). Most posts were on media sites (65.8%). Accuracy levels were high (87.5%) but significantly lower where posted on blogs and discussion forums (p < 0.001). Anonymous posts were common (55%)and less likely to be accurate (p < 0.001). Use of discussion forums has exponentially increased over the last five years (p < 0.001).
Conclusions: The internet has becomea primary forumwithinwhich health information, particularly relating to breast cancer, is both sought and shared. Increasingly information is provided by patients themselves.
2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.