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Media Influences Cancer Care
Date:2/23/2009

Patients who search Web, other media more likely to get newer treatments, study finds

MONDAY, Feb. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Cancer patients who research their disease on the Internet and in other media are more likely to get the latest treatments from their doctors, a new study suggests.

Although studies have found that about 40 percent of cancer patients look to the Internet for medical information, it hasn't been clear just how that information influences their choice of treatments, the researchers noted.

"We looked at how colon cancer patients used health information to try to make decisions about things related to their treatment," said lead researcher Dr. Stacy Gray, from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

To start with, the team found that 69 percent of the colon cancer patients they interviewed said they actively looked for treatment information.

"These high levels of treatment information-seeking were very strongly associated with both awareness of new novel therapies for colon cancer, and also [the] patient's report of receiving those therapies," Gray said. "Information-seeking may have the potential to influence the treatments patients receive, and potentially their medical outcome."

The report is published in the April 1 issue of Cancer.

For the study, Gray's team collected data on 633 patients with colon cancer from the Pennsylvania Cancer Registry. The researchers looked specifically at the use of two targeted therapies for the disease, bevacizumab (Avastin) and cetuximab (Erbitux), among these patients.

The researchers found that people who used the media to get information about colon cancer and its treatment were 2.8 times more likely to have heard about these newer treatments and 3.2 times more likely to have gotten these treatments, compared to those who did not research their disease.

The association between information-gathering a
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