NCCN Guidelines for Patients® | Caring for Adolescents and Young Adults - page 46

46
NCCN Guidelines for Patients
®
: Caring for Adolescents and Young Adults
Version 2013
Part 4: Navigating the treatment process
Whether you go hunting for information yourself or
hand the job over to a computer-savvy friend or relative,
you should take some time to figure out what you’ll be
searching for. Start with the information you already have
about the cancer—the diagnosis, the stage, the histologic
grade, etc. You’ll want to look for information that applies
to the specific cancer you have, and weed out information
that doesn’t. For example, if you have a stage 2 breast
cancer that will not respond to estrogen, there’s not much
point in pulling up information on stage 4 breast cancer
that’s hormone receptor-positive.
The Internet can be an incredible resource, but it’s also
littered with inaccurate information and scams, including
Web sites promoting unproven or downright dangerous
“alternative” therapies. Some of the most obvious “red
flags” include:
Claims that a particular treatment will work for every
type of cancer,
Treatments that are only available from one
individual or facility, or that can only be purchased
outside of the U.S.,
Claims that the government/pharmaceutical
companies/medical establishment “don’t want you to
know” about the treatment (or doctor, or theory),
Patient testimonials without any scientific backup,
“References” from magazines or newspapers
instead of recognized scientific journals,
Offers of online diagnosis or treatment advice, and
Claims that the site is the “best” or “only” source
of information on a particular topic.
In general, government-based (.gov) and university-
based (.edu) Web sites are reliable sources of
information and are less likely to be trying to sell you
something than commercial (.com) sites. Not-for-profit
organizations (.org) also tend to be good sources, but
it’s always a good idea to check on who is funding the
organization. Some not-for-profits may have political,
social, or religious points of view that influence the Web
site’s content. If a site doesn’t provide information on its
sponsors, advertisers, or funding source, you may want
to take it with quite a few grains of salt. Other questions
to consider are:
Who’s checking the information?
Reliable health
Web sites will have an editorial or advisory board
that reviews and approves the site’s contents. The
site should include the full names, credentials, and
contact information for each of these individuals.
Where are the references?
Medical claims and
scientific information should always be supported by
a reference from a scientific journal. (Think
Lancet
or
The New England Journal of Medicine
, not
National
Enquirer
.) If the site is reference-free, there’s no way
to check on the accuracy of the information.
How current is the information?
The Internet is
forever, and there are a lot of sites floating around
that may have been current 5 or 10 years ago, but
are now woefully out of date. Since cancer research
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