What is the first thing one does when looking for information? Search the Web! Internet is a great source of information of all kinds, but not without peril. Alongside very useful web sites, we may find incorrect, misleading, or even fraudulent data. Where do we turn to for reliable info on health related issues, and specifically on cancer?
Obviously your doctor should be the primary source and will provide all the information you need, but when diagnosed with a serious illness or a rare disease, the urge to know it all is the natural response to the uncertainty ahead.
Since my breast cancer diagnosis, I knew I had to trust my oncologist team and accept that the information they provided was sufficient. But for the purpose of this blog, I have done extensive research and have come across some very interesting websites. While I tend to avoid anything specific to my type of breast cancer, general information on treatment and side effects has been helpful, and it is comforting to confirm that most patients undergoing chemotherapy have a similar experience.
These are a few websites to visit for information on cancer in general or for very particular situations:
1. The American Cancer Society (ACS) offers very reliable and up to date information on all types of cancer. The information provided is comprehensive, covering every single topic one might look for, while not too technical and easy to understand. Searching by cancer type, one can find all the facts, treatment options, side effects and other issues related to each specific cancer. I especially liked the complete lists of suggested questions to discuss with your doctor. ACS is the largest volunteer-based health organization in the United States, with more than three million volunteers, and the largest non-governmental funder of cancer research. Their web site, www.cancer.org, has more than 23 million visitors each year.
- 2. Personally, I have found www.breastcancer.org very informative. This non-profit organization is dedicated to providing the most complete, reliable and up-to-date information regarding breast cancer, the most common cancer among women (excluding cancers of the skin). Covering from diagnosis and treatment, to side effects and day-to-day matters, its section on lowering risk includes nutrition and exercise tips. The founder and president, Dr. Marissa Weiss, is a breast cancer oncologist with more than 20 years of practice in Philadelphia, and the author of several books on the subject.
3. The non-profit agency Latinas Contra Cancer (LCC) is dedicated to increasing cancer awareness among the Latino community. Their California-based bilingual web, www.latinascontracancer.org strives to educate Hispanics and eliminate disparities in access to healthcare created by cultural, language and socioeconomic factors. LCC recent biannual summit focused on cancer risk associated with the environment and included guest speaker Dr. Alejandro Betancourt, Director of the National Cancer Institute of Mexico.
- 4. Committed to curing prostate cancer, the Prostate Cancer Foundation invests in the most promising research programs, resulting in important discoveries in the fight against this disease. Their website, www.pcf.org, includes all the important information and has a strong emphasis on news and the latest developments in research. Prostate cancer patients can help find new treatments by participating in the ongoing trials listed under the section Clinical Trials.
- 5. The Skin Cancer Foundation is the only international organization devoted exclusively to the education, detection and prevention of this type of cancer, which happens to be the most common cancer in the world. It is estimated that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. Find all the information you need on its web page www.skincancer.org.
- 6. The focus of Young Survival Coalition (YSC) is breast cancer in women under 40 years of age, typically before they start regular screening. While age is one of the major risk factors, when this disease affects young women it tends to be more aggressive. The website youngsurvival.org addresses the specific challenges and special concerns of younger women, from the higher mortality and the lack of screening tools, to the issue of infertility and body image. Headquartered in New York City, YSC has thirty affiliates throughout the nation.
7. HispanicHealth.info is key for the National Hispanic Medical Association, a non-profit association representing licensed Hispanic physicians in the United States, in achieving its mission of improving the health of Hispanics and other underserved communities. Cancer has its own section, the Cancer Portal, alongside Diabetes and Obesity, with information on a wide range of topics from reducing cancer risk, to the dangers of smoking, or specific info on prostate, breast and cervical cancer.
- 8. Imagine being diagnosed with cancer when you are pregnant? Hope for Two, the pregnantwithcancer.org, provides information, support and hope for these women. Its mission is to connect pregnant women who have been diagnosed with cancer with other women who have overcome the same situation, so they will share their experience and find support.