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Prostate Cancer Medical Websites: Friend Or Foe?
Date:11/16/2012

e. According to a Loyola University Medical Center study, however, it isn't just about being a savvy surfer. In some cases, you may need a medical degree to know what you're ready.

Who's Online?

An Internet study by Pew Research Center suggests that most men of prostate cancer age are online and are looking for health information. Eighty-five percent of adults age 50-64 use the Internet, plus 58 percent of those over 65. Among them, 80 percent are gathering health and medical information.

How Prostate Cancer Websites Stack Up

Loyola University Medical Center explored 62 different prostate cancer websites, finding that most are written above a 12th-grade reading level. Since one-third of Americans read below a high-school level, that presents a significant patient wellness challenge. As a general guideline, the U.S. National Institutes of Health suggest a fourth- to sixth-grade reading level for patient education materials, though few seem to heed that advice.

Striking a balance between medical expertise and patient-speak online presents a significant challenge for doctors. "In person, patients can ask questions and even when they don't we can read the uncertainly on their faces and know that further clarification is needed," says Dr. Samadi. "Whether in person or online, we have a responsibility to put ourselves in the patient's shoes and educate them in meaningful ways."

As a general rule, patients should seek health information from trusted sources such as large hospitals and experienced physicians and surgeons. Look for recommendations and advice backed by current medical research and well-recognized centers of excellence. "Patients should be as discerning online as they would be in person," urges Dr. Samadi. "Some websites are very useful, but if patients are unsure about something they read or feel they need more clarification, there's no substitute for the personal counsel of a specialist."

Dr. Samadi works t
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SOURCE roboticoncology.com
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