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37

NCCN Guidelines for Patients

®

Adolescents and Young Adults with Cancer, Version 1.2017

4

Navigating the treatment process How can I learn more about treatment options?

How can I learn more about

treatment options?

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

organization.

Other questions to consider when looking on a

website are:

††

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

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? 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.