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Way Too Much Info

Published: Thursday, Aug 21, 2008
The Internet can be an amazingly useful educational resource for patients who have been diagnosed with cancer. It can also be the source of potentially dangerous misinformation. Luckily, that’s often the exception to the rule, as demonstrated by reliable and useful sites like Cancer.Net that provide convenient access to essential information that supplements the guidance patients receive from their physicians.

According to a report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 80% of American Internet users have searched for information for at least one of 17 health topics. In addition, 53% said that the information they found from the most recent search affected how they took care of themselves or cared for someone else, and 54% reported that the information led them to ask a doctor new questions or receive a second opinion from another doctor.

Judging by these numbers, it is likely that your patients are going online to fi nd information about cancer. What are some advantages of patients accessing cancer information online? First, this allows patients and their family and friends to learn more about the disease at their own pace and review this information thoroughly. Often, patients report difficulty comprehending all of the information they receive from their doctor, especially after a new diagnosis. In addition to teaching about the basics of cancer, a good website can help patients learn about diagnostic tests they will need and help them evaluate treatment options. Patients can also go online to find support and connect with others who have a similar diagnosis. Finally, the Internet provides

the growing population of cancer survivors with up-to-date information about post-treatment concerns and follow-up care.

However, the Internet is not without its drawbacks and dangers. Not all websites have timely, accurate, and relevant information. Some sites promote expensive and unproven or unsafe treatments to vulnerable people at the expense of curative therapy. Because of the wide disparity in the quality of online information, many healthcare professionals remain wary of

medical information on the Internet.

Cancer.Net: The voice of the cancer physician

To address the need for accurate, understandable, patient-centered, online cancer information, Cancer.Net brings the expertise and resources of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the voice of the world’s cancer physicians, to people living with cancer and those who care for and care about them. Cancer.Net provides timely, oncologist-approved information to

help patients and families make informed healthcare decisions. All information on Cancer.Net is developed through a peer-review process by the Cancer.Net editorial board, which comprises more than 150 medical, surgical, radiation, and pediatric oncologists; oncology nurses; social workers; and patient advocates. The content is reviewed annually

or as needed for both accuracy and readability.

Although the primary audience is people with cancer and their families and friends, ASCO members, nurses, other healthcare providers, and patient advocates play a key role in sharing this resource with patients.

Key content on Cancer.Net: Guides to Cancer

Cancer.Net offers Guides to Cancer for more than 120 types of cancer and cancer-related syndromes. These guides provide comprehensive disease information, covering statistics, risk factors, prevention strategies, symptoms, tests used to make a diagnosis, an explanation of cancer staging and how it affects treatment and prognosis, clinical trials, treatment options,

follow-up care, questions to ask the doctor, and current research for each type of cancer. In addition, Guides to Cancer for 25 of the most common cancers affecting Hispanics and Latinos in the United States are now available in Spanish.

ASCO Cancer Education Slides

The “ASCO Cancer Education Slides” provide reliable, oncologist-approved cancer information in a turn-key Microsoft PowerPoint presentation. Based on the Guides to Cancer, the slides are intended for oncologists, oncology nurses, and other healthcare professionals who give patient and community group lectures. More than 20 titles are available here.

ASCO Patient Guides

Based on the ASCO Clinical Practice Guidelines for physicians, patient guides are available in both text and .PDF versions here. They cover treatment options and tests for specific forms of cancer and include background information, summaries of the recommendations of the ASCO expert panels that designed the treatment guidelines and what they mean for patients, questions to ask the doctor, and additional resources for further research. Several of the patient guides have been translated into Spanish.

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