Guest Post from Healthline
After my cancer diagnosis, I started following numerous cancer related blogs. I was perturbed by some of the information floating around the internet. There were various claims about preventing or curing cancer that seemed unfounded. At times it was difficult to sort through truth, fiction, and the murky grey area in between. Thankfully, Adrienne at Healthline was able to provide some helpful tips on how to sort through cancer information.
The moment you mention that cancer has affected your life in any way, well-meaning friends are quick to pass along emails and Facebook posts offering the latest “miracle” cure for cancer. Some of it just looks hokey while others can look pretty official and on the up and up. So what’s a person to believe when every email, newsletter, book, or friend of a friend is claiming to have the inside track on something that could help you or your loved one through this horrible disease? Here are some ways to help you sort through all the cancer information out there.
The internet is full of sites offering medical advice and information. One of the best ways to determine whether or not a site is offering honest information is to look into who runs the site. One way is to check the “About Us” section which most reputable sites will have. It should be easy to find out who the information is coming from and what their credentials are. The way that a site’s URL address ends can also offer you a good idea of the source. Sites ending with:
- .edu are part of a university, college, or other educational system
- .org is generally a non-profit organization, such as the Cancer Society and similar organizations
- .gov is from a national or state government
Just because a site’s url doesn’t fall into one of the above categories doesn’t mean that the site isn’t a reliable source of information. Any medical claims or information should be backed up with solid and reliable references. Look for a list of references or sources at the end of an article. Valid sources should include information and studies from medical journals or from government, educational, or non-profit sources as listed above. If an article is making claims about a treatment or offering advice without citing reputable sources that back up the information, then be wary and do more homework. You should know where they are getting their information and have easy access to their sources. Opinion and facts are two very different things and a reputable site makes it easy for you to know just which one they’re giving you.
What Are They Peddling?
If a site is trying to sell products then you need to question whether or not the information they provide—legitimate as it may seem—has been slanted to try to encourage sales. For instance, if you’re reading about a certain supplement that will supposedly cure cancer or alleviate symptoms and it happens to be published on a site that sells said product or directs you to a link where you can buy it, then you’re likely getting biased information. Think about the purpose of the site itself. You want a site whose main purpose is providing accurate information and facts, not selling products.
If It Sounds too Good to be True…
Organizations that are offering accurate information do not rely on over-the-top or outrageous headlines to get their information out there. Claims like “miraculous cure” or “secret ingredient” are red flags, as are “money back guarantee” offers. You should also be wary of anything that claims to be able to cure several different illnesses—and you’ve probably seen many of those online lately! And, while we are not saying that everyone who shares their experience with cancer and treatments online is embellishing or lying; they should be able to provide some sort of scientific data to back up any claims that they are making.
Use Caution When it comes to Alternative Therapy Information
Unfortunately, a lot of the bad advice out there is centered around alternative treatments. This doesn’t mean that all alternative therapies are to be avoided or that they aren’t beneficial, but rather that you need to practice the same caution when it comes to the sources that the information is coming from. Many alternative therapies have been studied and there is information available regarding the research that’s been done and its findings. There are many doctors in oncology who do use a combination of conventional and alternative therapies for the treatment of cancer. You may be able to find one by asking at your hospital or cancer center or checking with your insurance company.
When in Doubt, Ask
If you come across information regarding cancer treatment that you’re not sure of, print it off and show it to your oncologist to see if they have heard of it or if they can direct you to someone who can answer your questions. One important thing to always keep in mind is that there is not as of yet one known proven cure-all for cancer, so any articles telling you otherwise aren’t worth your time. A cure would be huge news, as you can imagine. If a cure is found, chances are you’ll be hearing about it in the news and in every other form of media, as well as from your medical team.
You can find accurate and up-to-date information on cancer and the latest treatments by clicking here.
Adrienne is a freelance writer and author who has written extensively on all things health and fitness for more than a decade. When she’s not holed-up in her writing shed researching an article or off interviewing health professionals, she can be found frolicking around her beach town with husband and dogs in tow or splashing about the lake trying to master the stand-up paddle board. You can connect with Adrienne on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/writeradrienne.
- Cancer Information on the Internet. (February 25, 2014). American Cancer Society. Retrieved on April 11, 2014, from http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancerbasics/cancer-information-on-the-internet
- Complementary and Alternative Methods and Cancer. (January 2014). American Cancer Society. Retrieved on April 11, 2014, from http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/complementaryandalternativemethodsandcancer/complementary-and-alternative-methods-and-cancer-using-cam-safely
- Cancer Treatment Scams. (2008). Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Retrieved on April 11, 2014, from http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0104-cancer-treatment-scams