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Cancer Patients Guide Their Doctors to the Latest Treatments

Thursday April 2, 2009

The ability to tap into cyberspace grants us access to more information than ever before. Once the realm of physicians and researchers alone, the latest cancer treatments and procedures can be browsed with a few clicks at the kitchen counter. Just as I jump online whenever I have a probing question about anything, we know that those with cancer and their loved ones use the internet extensively to learn about their disease. Does it make a difference?

Research on the impact of internet information is in its infancy, but one recent study showed that patients can influence the way their cancer is treated -- by getting online.

This study evaluating colon cancer patients, found that those who had the highest levels of “treatment information seeking” were 3 times as likely to be treated with one of the newer targeted therapies. This was the case both for those with advanced cancer for which the FDA has approved the drugs, and for those with early stage cancer where the drugs are still considered experimental. Though lung cancer patients were not a part of the study, these same medications are sometimes used as a lung cancer treatment.

The next step will be to see if information seeking – and subsequent treatment choices – will make a difference in the quality of life and survival for those living with cancer. Whatever those studies show us, taking an active role in your health care, and asking questions, can help insure you receive the best medical care possible – the care you deserve.

SourceGray, S. et al. Colon cancer patient information seeking and the adoption of targeted therapy for on-label and off-label indications. Cancer. 2009. Feb 23. (Epub ahead of print).

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Thank you, Randy, for that insightful article. It is so true. Being an advocate for oneself, or others, I believe, can make all the difference.

I personally have witnessed that in the care someone I know has received. The amount of interest in seeking out information was directly related to the choice of treatments which followed. She has been surviving for more than six years, having had an aggressive breast cancer.

Juxtaposed, a friend of my son's chose no involvement in his diagnosis. The results were far different.

Knowledge is power,


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