Friday, January 6, 2012

Finding cancer information

There is lots of information out there on cancer. Some of it is very good and some of it is a load of crap. Figuring out how to find the good stuff is important. Here are a few tips:
  • Use reputable sites. Look for ones which have some credentials behind them. The American Cancer Society is a great place to start at www.cancer.org. Also try the websites for specialized cancer medical centers such as Dana Farber, Mayo Clinic, MD Anderson, Cancer Treatment Centers of America.
  • Medical blogs and newsletters. Many of these same sites have newsletters or blogs focused on cancer in addition to more general ones. Dana Farber has just launched a cancer blog. Mayo Clinic has a Living with Cancer blog and newsletter. Johns Hopkins has a specialized monthly newsletter for breast cancer.
  • General medical sites such as WebMD can provide solid information on procedures and tests even if they do not have as much detail on your type of cancer.
  • Ask the Experts sections can decipher the technical side of the information you find as well. See this section on the Mayo Clinic's site.
  • Cancer type specific information can be found at patient associations or non profits. Google 'cancer name' and the word association to find yours. A list of some of them can be found here.
  • Your hospital's website. I am treated at Lahey Clinic and they have a lot of information on ailments and procedures/medical misadventures/tests. I usually look up every little medical adventure on their site before I go to have it. There are standards for each procedure or test but there may be different variations on things like - needing a ride home or how long it will take or preparation - that are specific to where you are treated.
  • A very good place to ask where to find information online is your doctor. They know where to get the right information.
Once you get to a site, look for their background before you believe anything you may read there:
  • Red flags include broken English, misspellings, lack of organization, broken links.
  • Look for date of last updates - on the very bottom line of the home page is usually a copyright date. Websites can stay up long after the creators are gone. 
  • Look for an About Us or other descriptive page providing background on the posters. If they have no credentials or aren't medical professionals, their cancer information has no credibility.
  • Any site claiming to have a cure, treatment, etc that can heal you if you send them money up front is a hoax. If it is a real treatment your doctor would know about it, you wouldn't need to buy it online.
One of the interesting parts of having a blog is the comments I receive. I frequently get comments from weird medical people telling me about their cures or wanting me to help them by publicizing their book or association or telling me how they can help me. I usually just delete them and/or block them. Yesterday a gentleman in Australia commented that he wants to talk to me to tell me about the beneficial side of cancer cells. Hmmm... I checked his credentials and he used to be a chiropractor and now promotes mind/body wellness which is all well and good but what does he know about cancer anyway? Maybe he has studied acupuncture and other alternative therapies but I won't waste my time.

There is lots of information out there but you need to check it out before you read it. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

2 comments:

Jim's Girl said...

I thought this post was very worthwhile and have recommended that my readers consider it. I've posted a link to your post at Kate's Breast Cancer Awareness Blog (http://katebreastcancer.blogspot.com) in my post "Where You Get Your Info: Some Tips" (http://katebreastcancer.blogspot.com/2012/01/where-you-get-your-info-some-tips.html)

~Jim's Girl, AKA Kate

breast cancer clinic said...

Thanks for various nice links shared. It is very helpful to know various information about cancer.
Keep posting.