When you or a loved one encounter cancer, getting information and the proper treatment can be difficult. Fortunately, there are several reputable sources of cancer treatment and research information on the World Wide Web—but there are also a lot of misleading sites. Recently, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a list of recommended Web sites. So today, I'll take you to the foremost sites that offer the most accurate information about cancer according to the AMA.
Created by the National Cancer Institute in Washington, the NCI is part of the governments' Public Health Service in the Department of Health and Human Services. The institute is primarily concerned with cancer research and training, but at its straightforward webstation you'll find a wealth of information for not only health care professionals and researchers but for patients as well. Treatment and diagnostic issues are discussed at length covering everything from AIDS-related lymphoma to vaginal cancer. Each patient section explains the current knowledge about each disease with supplemental pages that cover earlier detection, cancer prevention, and current genetic information about some of the forms of cancer. All the material here has been reviewed by professional oncologists, so that visitors are afforded some measure of assurance about its accuracy. The main shortcoming of the site however is a lack of explanatory diagrams or photographs that would be helpful for those concerned about the early warning signs of disease.
From the University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center, there's the OncoLink database. With updated cancer research news, online journal articles, and some excellent FAQ sections on specific forms of cancer, OncoLink is an invaluable resource. You'll find a news section with recent additions from the blood and bone marrow transplant newsletter as well as weekly reports from a cancer biotechnology newsletter. For specific stories and information on diseases you can quickly search the entire site using key words. Some information I found particularly helpful (and that which is usually ignored at other sites) were pages dealing with the financial problems and issues in treating cancer. There are also many pages with international information. Extremely helpful is the wide variety of links to other areas dealing with specific cancer related issues, such as the American College of Physicians: Home Care Guide for Advanced Cancer.
The American Cancer Society
Well known among national non-profit groups is the American Cancer Society. The organization's I-way stop focuses much of its material on public awareness. In particular, there are several topics covered here that have been much in the news of late. These include issues related to smoking and kicking the habit, breast cancer and new mammography standards, as well as prostrate cancer. Volunteers are encouraged to join the society and you'll find information on who to contact and what opportunities there are to participate. And like the other sites, there is a broad range of information about cancer and cancer treatment. Most of it doesn't go into the depth of the other sites reviewed here today, but much of their material is of general use to patients. There are, for example, articles on how to deal with your doctor and ask the right questions. If you're concerned about the risks to you of lung cancer or other common cancers, the American Cancer Society's site should be your first stop.
Sponsored by the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, NCCS is a patient oriented web site. Its principal author is a 14-year survivor of colon cancer who has set up this clearinghouse of information so that others can quickly locate details and research about a specific type of cancer they may be coping with. Toward that end, the site explains for the neophyte what information can be found and where to go, referring visitors to some of the other sites reviewed here today. In addition, there's extensive material on current clinical trials. The site is extremely good at explaining what clinical trials are and what patients can expect to encounter. Also online is a link to the FDA's most recently approved drugs for cancer treatment and other cutting-edge treatments. If you are just beginning your quest for cancer information on the Net and have only recently come online, NCCS is an excellent first stop, and there are two separate sections dealing with brain cancer and bone cancer.