Navigation Links
Review of online breast cancer information encourages healthy skepticism for consumers

HOUSTON - In an extended analysis of Web pages dedicated to disseminating breast cancer information, researchers at two University of Texas institutions in the Houston have determined that while most breast cancer data found online was accurate, one in 20 breast cancer Web pages featured inaccuracies and sites displaying complementary and alternative medicine were 15 times more likely to contain false or misleading health information.

Published in the March 15 issue of Cancer and online today, the study was conducted by The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in collaboration with researchers at The University of Texas School of Health Information Sciences at Houston (SHIS) as one of a series of studies to determine whether existing quality assessment tools can identify false or inaccurate breast cancer information available online.

The Pew Internet and American Life Project estimates that more patients seek health information online rather than visit a physician.

According to Funda Meric-Bernstam, M.D., associate professor of surgery at M. D. Anderson, many of her patients have gone on the Internet for education and are savvy in their breast cancer knowledge even before their first appointment with her.

"Often it's clearly a benefit. For example, I've had patients who were recommended mastectomies that were really breast conservation candidates. They actually figured this out by going online and then seeking out surgeons capable of performing the surgery," says Meric-Bernstam, the study's senior and corresponding author. "In contrast, there are times patients read about treatments that clearly do not apply to them, which can increase their level of anxiety or expectations for a treatment that they are not a candidate for. Of course, one also worries about patients who go online and then ultimately do not seek out any treatment despite it being necessary."

In total, 343 Web pages, retrieved using search engines that consumers are likely to use, were analyzed. Each was reviewed for 15 quality criteria, including display of authorship, date of creation and last modification. It was important that the quality criteria be "reproducible," says the study's first author Elmer Bernstam, M.D., an associate professor at both SHIS and The University of Texas Medical School at Houston. Forty-one inaccurate statements were found on 18 of the different Web sites, or 5.2 percent.

"Consumers are taught to look for Web sites where the author's credentials are identified, his or her affiliations are disclosed and other information is listed," said Bernstam, an internist. "But none of this ensures accuracy."

A more positive finding is that the breast cancer information available on the Internet is more accurate than other fields of health information, says Meric-Bernstam.

The authors recognize that while much has changed in terms of the wealth of information about health available on the Internet since the data was collected in 2004, the issue regarding specific quality criteria is timely.

"The question that we really tried to answer was if we could separate Web sites that have misinformation from Sites that have more accurate content. No combination of the criteria allowed us to differentiate the Web sites with accurate information versus those that did not," Bernstam said.

Using such quality criteria, the researchers ultimately hope to develop a screening or automated tool to help consumers eliminate sites with misinformation.

"However, our current recommendation to patients is to be skeptical, make sure what patients read is applicable to their specific medical well-being and not to take action without consulting a clinician," says Meric-Bernstram.


Contact: Laura Sussman
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

Related medicine news :

1. New review suggests caution on drugs to raise good cholesterol
2. Virginia Tech Review Panel Calls For Reform of Mental Health Treatment Law
3. Arbios Systems, Incs Q2/07 Analyst Review Issued by Scimitar Equity Research, Inc.
4. FDA Accepts New Drug Application for Priority Review of Investigational HIV Treatment TMC125
5. FDA Accepts New Drug Application for Priority Review of Investigational HIV Treatment TMC125
6. Peer-Reviewed, Online Database Showcases Local, County and State Pandemic Planning
7. InstaCare Corp. Reviewing M&A Plans
8. CCF Reviews Contents of SCHIP Reauthorization Bill Legislation Places SCHIP on Solid Path
9. Sunrise Provides Status Report on Special Independent Committee Investigation; Provides Updates on Managements Internal Control Review Efforts and on Legal Proceedings
10. Multicountry review shows that Bug Buster Kits reduce head lice and social stigma
11. MaxLife Fund Corp. retains the Law firm, Anslow & Jaclin, LLP of Manalapan, N.J., to review MaxLife Fund Corp. options to be listed on the NASDAQ Capital Market
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... June 26, 2016 , ... PawPaws brand pet ... product that was developed to enhance the health of felines. The formula is all-natural ... two main herbs in the PawPaws Cat Kidney Support Supplement Soft Chews ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... ... and applications at AcademyHealth’s Annual Research Meeting June 26-28, 2016, at the Hynes ... important health care topics including advance care planning, healthcare costs and patient and ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... "With 30 hand-drawn hand gesture animations, FCPX ... Austin - CEO of Pixel Film Studios. , ProHand Cartoon’s package transforms over ... Cut Pro X . Simply select a ProHand generator and drag it above media ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... ... recover from injury. Recently, he has implemented orthobiologic procedures as a method for ... is one of the first doctors to perform the treatment. Orthobiologics are substances ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 , ... A recent ... that most people are unfamiliar with. The article goes on to state that individuals ... also many of these less common operations such as calf and cheek reduction. The ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... -- Research and Markets has announced ... Applications, Technologies, Forecasts" report to their offering. ... Smart Skin, Structural Health Monitoring, Composite Smart Structures, ... involves electronic and/or electrical components and circuits that ... such as vehicle bodies or conformally placed upon ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... According to a new market ... Needles, Safety Pen Needles), Needle Length (4mm, 5mm, 6mm, ... of Purchase (Retail, Non-Retail) - Trends & Global Forecasts ... market for the forecast period of 2016 to 2021. ... by 2021 from USD 1.65 Billion in 2016, growing ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016 Research and Markets has ... - Forecast to 2022" report to their offering. ... for the patients with kidney failure, it replaces the function ... the patient,s blood and thus the treatment helps to keep ... in balance. Increasing number of ESRD patients ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: