NCCN Guidelines for Patients
Adolescents and Young Adults with Cancer, Version 1.2017
Navigating the treatment process How can I learn more about treatment options?
How can I learn more about
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. You’ll want to look for
information that fits the specific cancer you have, and
weed out information that doesn’t.
The Internet can be an incredible resource, but it’s
also full of false information and scams. Websites can
promote wrong or dangerous “alternative” therapies.
Some of the most obvious “red flags” include:
Claims that a certain 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 a certain treatment,
doctor, or theory.
Patient stories without any scientific backup.
“References” from magazines or newspapers
instead of recognized scientific journals.
Offers of online diagnosis or treatment advice.
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) websites are reliable sources of
information. They are less likely to try and 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 who is funding the
Other questions to consider when looking on a
Who’s checking the information? Reliable
health websites 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 member of the board.
Where are the references? Medical claims
and scientific information should always be
supported by a reference from a scientific
The New England
Journal of Medicine
If the site is reference-free, there’s no way to
check on the accuracy of the information.
How current is the information? Since cancer
research is always evolving, reliable sites will
often update their content. The site will include
a timestamp on every page with the date of
the most recent update.
Forums, bulletin boards, and chat rooms are great
places to share ideas and get support. Keep in
mind, they may not be the best places to get medical
information. Just because a treatment worked for one
person on a cancer bulletin board doesn’t mean it will
work for another.