How Can I Safely Stay Updated About Blood Cancer?
I am always eager to learn about new research and treatment options for my blood cancer. When visiting my oncologist, he knows I will have questions about what I have read. Someone recently asked me how I find the information. On many websites, you can read facts about certain types of cancer, find current clinical trials, information on research studies, treatment guidelines, and drug information. However, the information can be influenced by testimonials, opinions, and salesmanship and may not be grounded in science. The wrong information can hurt when it comes to cancer.
Although there is so much information about blood cancer on the internet from reputable sources that can be helpful, it is still important to consult your physician before trying anything new, since they know your individual case the best. Also, some information found on the internet is not accurate and has no scientific consensus to back it up.
Consider the source
Here are some things to consider when searching for health-related information on the internet.
Who runs the website and provides financial support?
The ending of the website address will indicate the type of source the information is coming from.1
- ".edu" - Reserved for academic institutions, such as a college or university.
- ".org" - Often non-profits but can also be for-profit organizations.
- ".gov" - Run by national or state governments.
- ".com" - Typically a for-profit company or private organization.
What is the purpose of the website?
Is there a clear mission statement or about us section on the website? If there are tons of pop-ups and sales pitches, the information on the website may only contain information they want you to read, not what you are looking for. Finding a clear mission statement or about us section can help you determine the type of experience that the website is trying to create. You may want to look to see if any of the content is sponsored by a particular product or company.1
What is the source of the information?
Is it scientific fact or based on opinions or personal stories? If an article is claiming to be based on scientific fact, there should be references linked in the article or in a reference section within the article. If a scientific claim is made without references, that might be a red flag. Again, checking with your doctor before starting any complementary treatments or exercises is recommended. It can also be helpful to check for edit or review by dates to ensure that the information provided is current.1
Reading personal stories and opinion articles can be very helpful. They can help us feel like we are not alone in our experience with our disease, but it is important to remember that every individual is different. Be wary of people who claim to have found "miracle cures." While some things may work well for some people, they may not work well for others.
More sources for blood cancer patients
The following are examples of reputable websites that I have used to learn more about cancer and the latest treatments:
While this list is not all-inclusive, remember that the most important medical advice is from your healthcare provider. You may want to review information from the above websites to stay current and then have a thoughtful discussion with your physician. Your doctor can help to point you toward additional resources related to your specific type of blood cancer. Some medical centers even have resource centers that can provide information and lists of reputable websites.
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