Surfing for Answers
Our medical librarian selects best online cancer resources so you don't have toIf you think you can trust the results of your latest Google search on cancer, click again. And again. And again.
It's important to use trusted resources when it comes to your health or that of a loved one, but verifying a cancer website's credentials is a multistep -- and often time-consuming -- process.
"You want to make sure that the information you find on the Internet has the same level of credibility as your physician," says Ruti Volk, M.S.I., A.H.I.P., the University of Michigan Health System's Patient Education librarian and former manager of the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center's Patient Education Resource Center. "It's important to check a websites credentials, because if you base a decision on bad, inaccurate or outdated information, you can really cause yourself a lot of harm," she says.
Volk, an award-winning medical librarian, shares her choices for the best online cancer resources so cancer patients, their family and friends can focus on whats important: time together.
American Cancer SocietyWho runs it: The American Cancer Society (ACS) is a nationwide, community-based organization that supports patients, survivors and caregivers throughout their cancer experience; funds cancer research; and works with lawmakers to promote beneficial policies, laws and regulations.
What you'll find: This website covers it all, from detailed summaries for specific types of cancer to extensive information on staying healthy and finding support. Browse the website to learn more about developing healthy habits, making cancer-related decisions and coping with treatment side effects. ACS packs in a lot of information, but section overviews make it easier to locate what you need. The organization also offers the Clinical Trials Matching Service, a free program to help cancer patients find clinical trials that may be right for them. Visit: cancer.org.
American Society of Clinical Oncology's Cancer.netWho runs it: Cancer.net is the patient information website of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, a nonprofit organization of nearly 30,000 oncology practitioners that aims to improve cancer care and prevention.
In addition to our website, there are other web resources of interest:
We've launched mCancerTalk.org to provide you with a new, interactive place to learn about better ways to live with cancer. Here you'll find links to more stories like the ones you find in Thrive as well as online chats with experts, including our Cancer AnswerLine oncology nurses, and patient and caregiver discussion groups.
Would you like to know more about how you can advance cancer research? Find out how you can participate in a clinical research study at UMclinicalstudies.org. Search our database of open trials and sign up for regular updates tailored just for you.
What you'll find: All information is oncologist-approved, providing visitors with the latest research news, treatment guidelines and online discussions with oncologists. This website offers free audio podcasts and videos on various cancer-related topics, as well as in-depth guides on coping with cancer and survivorship. Cancer.net dedicates an entire section to those who have recently been diagnosed with cancer to help guide them through the process. The site suggests questions patients should ask providers and explains the oncology team's role in cancer care. Visit: cancer.net.
The Cancer JourneyWho runs it: The Cancer Journey was created through the expertise and resources of the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS), the world's largest professional oncology association. ONS includes more than 37,000 registered nurses and other health care providers dedicated to excellence in patient care, education, research and administration.
What you'll find: This website focuses on managing side effects and symptoms during and after cancer treatment. The Cancer Journey summarizes research on ways to better manage cancer-related symptoms. All information is reviewed by ONS experts. For those who need help making cancer treatment decisions, The Cancer Journey offers a free tool called the Cancer Profiler, which uses a questionnaire to match a patient's diagnosis, diagnostic results and disease stage with relevant treatment options. Another unique feature is "Traveling Companions," a blog written by oncology nurses and caregiver experts to provide support and advice to patients and their caregivers. Visit: thecancerjourney.org.
National Cancer InstituteWho runs it: The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is part of the National Institutes of Health, one of 11 agencies in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
What you'll find: This website features the Physician Data Query, NCI's comprehensive cancer database. It contains peer-reviewed, evidence-based summaries on treatment of adult and childhood cancer types and supportive care topics. Oncology specialists update these statements monthly. The site also has a database of cancer clinical trials, which can be searched based on cancer type or condition, stage, trial status and more. A comprehensive cancer term dictionary helps translate confusing medical jargon into everyday language. Visit: cancer.gov.
National Comprehensive Cancer NetworkVisit: nccn.com Who runs it: The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) is a nonprofit alliance of 21 of the world's leading cancer centers -- including the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center -- dedicated to improving the quality and effectiveness of care provided to patients with cancer.
What you'll find: Physicians worldwide use the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology -- the most comprehensive and most frequently updated clinical practice guidelines -- to make sure their treatment decisions are well informed. The NCCN currently offers guidelines for patients with breast cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, melanoma, multiple myeloma, prostate cancer and ovarian cancer (with more being added). This website also includes information for family, friends and caregivers of cancer patients, including a new column on caregiving from Jai Pausch, wife of Randy Pausch (The Last Lecture).
CancerCareWho runs it: CancerCare is a national nonprofit organization.
What you'll find: This organization provides free, professional support services for anyone affected by cancer. Services include free counseling sessions with an oncology social worker and various opportunities to connect with support groups or participate in free educational workshops about cancer-related issues. CancerCare also offers specialized services for parents; women; young adults; and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. Visit: cancercare.org.
Cancer Support CommunityWho runs it: Popular cancer support programs Gilda's Club and the Wellness Community recently merged to create The Cancer Support Community, an international nonprofit organization that is the largest employer of psychosocial oncology mental health professionals in the United States.
What you'll find: This organization offers support groups, lectures, workshops and social events for people affected by cancer, including patients, family members and friends. The website allows users to get support and participate in programs online through a free registration process. The site covers a wide range of topics, from being newly diagnosed to survivorship and caring for cancer patients. A video journal option allows you to share your story with others.. Visit: thewellnesscommunity.org.
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