WEDNESDAY, July 28, 2021 (HealthDay Information) — Do not imagine all the pieces you learn on social media about most cancers and cancer treatment.
A brand new examine finds that one-third of the preferred articles on social media about therapy for widespread cancers comprises misinformation — and most of it may be downright harmful.
“The worst-case situation is when it results in an individual declining confirmed most cancers therapies in favor of a therapy that has not been proven to successfully deal with most cancers,” mentioned examine creator Dr. Skyler Johnson. “These inherent risks compromise our capacity as oncologists to treatment most cancers, enhance survival, or in any case prolong and enhance high quality of life.”
Contemplate these fraudulent claims, as an illustration: “Chemotherapy is ineffective for the therapy of most cancers,” or “cannabis cures lung cancer,” or “prostate cancer will be cured by baking soda.”
Articles with any such misinformation get extra clicks and engagement than these based mostly on details, the examine discovered.
And such misinformation may end up in the delay of acceptable most cancers screening, prognosis and therapy, mentioned Johnson, a physician-scientist on the Huntsman Most cancers Institute on the College of Utah.
His crew recognized 200 of the preferred articles about breast, lung, prostate and colon cancers on Fb, Reddit, Twitter and Pinterest between January 2018 and December 2019. Consultants from the Nationwide Complete Most cancers Community reviewed the posts for accuracy.
Of the 200 articles, about 33% contained misinformation. Of those, roughly 77% had data that might negatively affect therapy outcomes. Lots of the clicks, likes and feedback occurred on Fb, the examine confirmed.
A lot of the dangerous content material originated from New Age web sites, not respected information sources, however Johnson mentioned it may be laborious to inform the distinction.
“Bear in mind that a lot of the knowledge must be evaluated critically, as a result of there’s a probability that what you could be studying is inaccurate or probably dangerous,” Johnson mentioned. “Talk about your questions along with your oncologist and work collectively as a crew to give you a therapy plan that meets your objectives.”
Going ahead, Johnson needs to establish predictors of misinformation and hurt on social media with the intention to assist sufferers and medical doctors higher navigate this Wild West.
The findings had been lately revealed within the Journal of the Nationwide Most cancers Institute.
Sadly, the wave of on-line misinformation comes as no shock to Dr. S. Vincent Rajkumar, a professor of medication on the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., who reviewed the examine findings.
This isn’t to say that social media does not have one thing constructive to supply individuals with most cancers, he added.
“Social media websites can supply social assist or tips about dealing with unwanted effects of most cancers remedy,” mentioned Rajkumar, who can also be editor in chief of Blood Most cancers Journal. “For medical recommendation, nevertheless, it is at all times higher to depend on your doctor, a tutorial middle, or a authorities group just like the Nationwide Institutes of Well being.”
The American Most cancers Society affords tips about searching online for information about cancer.
SOURCES: Skyler Johnson, MD, physician-scientist, Huntsman Most cancers Institute, and assistant professor, radiation oncology, College of Utah, Salt Lake Metropolis; S. Vincent Rajkumar, MD, professor, medication, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.; Journal of the Nationwide Most cancers Institute, July 22, 2021