Sunday, December 18, 2011

Finding Reliable Health Information on the Web

The explosion of information on the internet has certainly benefited people with cancer, but has also added a good dose of confusion and new pressure. With thousands of websites offering cancer information, knowing which ones to trust can be difficult.

If you don't have a computer at home, most public libraries have computers with free internet access for your use. If you're not familiar with how to use computers or the internet, ask a friend, family member or staff person at the library to help you.

Where to begin ?
  • A good place to begin is always with your health care team. Your doctor, nurse or social worker can tell you about websites or books related to your cancer type that will provide credible information. 
  • Government institutions, like the National Cancer Institute (, provide trustworthy, current information on cancer staging, new treatments, side effects management and more.
  • Nonprofit organizations can refer you to helpful websites such as the following: 
  1. Association of Cancer Online Resources 

  2. American Society of Clinical Oncology

  3. University of Pennsylvania Oncology 
Can I trust this website ?

What is the purpose of the website - educational or commercial ?

Educational websites, which are generally sponsored by nonprofit organizations, provide information about many different treatment options. Commercial sites, like those sponsored by pharmaceutical companies, will provide excellent information about their own products (drugs) and/or research procedures or clinical trials but are not a good place to learn about the full range of treatment options.

What is the website's or blog reputation?

Chances are, if you or your doctor or other professionals you trust have heard of the website, it's reliable.

What is the source of the information ?

Generally, nationally known cancer centers, medical schools, large nonprofit organizations, and government agencies provide the highest quality information but a number or new comers such as SJCCF are reliable information contenders with the best of them.

Is the information relevant to you ?

A good website provides information that speaks to your needs.

Can you identify the authors of the material?

If they are not experts in the field or if they are anonymous, their information could be misleading or inaccurate.

Are the links relevant and appropriate for the site?

Websites that refer you to commercial sources of information should be rejected because they may not be providing you with all the information you need to make an educated well informed decision.

Remember the internet is not a substitute for individual medical care. Use credible information you find on these sites and this blog to help you communicate more effectively with YOUR DOCTOR

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