Ed Everest's Guide to the World's Best English-language Cancer Websites
The  home page address is www.bestcancersites.com

The address of this page is www.bestcancersites.com/userbeware/

Best advice on how to use the internet for finding information on cancer and how to determine if that information is reliable

The principle of "user beware" applies to our search for cancer-related information and support on the internet as it does in many other areas of the net. On the websites and in the forums and chat rooms people are generally free to put whatever views, opinions and recommendations they like about such matters as the significance of symptoms, the types and usefulness of various treatments, side effects of treatments, and alternative treatments and products they may have heard about or used. There are no teams of medical experts sifting through the websites and the posts on the forums and assessing what is reliable information and what is not.

In short, there are no guardian angels protecting us from misinformation on the internet so we must be our own guardian angels, and carefully assess any information or advice we find on the forums, chat rooms and websites before acting on it.

The American Cancer Society has a very good information page giving advice on how to use the internet for finding information on cancer, and how to determine if that information is reliable. The direct link to it is Cancer Information on the Internet.

The National Cancer Institute also has a good information page on how to determine if cancer-related websites you visit are likely to provide reliable information. The direct link to it is Is Information On The Web Reliable?.

For anyone considering trying an alternative treatment for cancer (one that is not mainstream medicine and scientifically demonstrated to be safe and beneficial) the website Quackwatch has a section on their site called “A Special Message for Cancer Patients Seeking "Alternative" Treatments”. The direct link is www.quackwatch.org/00AboutQuackwatch/altseek.html or you can find the link on their home page at www.quackwatch.org.

It alerts us to the sad fact that there are some fraudulent treatments out there (and some well-meaning but useless ones) and it details many of them. There’s also a section outlining ways we can spot manipulation and fraud in the promotional material for some of the alternative treatments.

The American Cancer Society website has a valuable section called "Complementary and Alternative Medicine". It's buried deep in their website and difficult to find - there's no link to it from their home page. Try this direct link www.cancer.org/Treatment/TreatmentsandSideEffects/ComplementaryandAlternativeMedicine/index or else put the word alternative into the search window on the home page and look for a link to the section in the search results. If you're thinking of trying a specific alternative or complimentary treatment you've come across on the internet or elsewhere you may find information about it in this section.

Another website that discusses the subject of alternative treatments in some detail is the website of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at www.nccam.nih.gov.

“NCCAM is the [USA] Federal Government's lead agency for scientific research on CAM [complementary and alternative medicine]. NCCAM is dedicated to exploring complementary and alternative healing practices in the context of rigorous science, training CAM researchers, and disseminating authoritative information to the public and professionals.”

Most of us would like to see a world where all alternative treatments on offer are safe and might do us some good. Unfortunately we are far from that situation at present - there’s no-one out there protecting our interests and separating the wheat from the weevils so we must do it ourselves.

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page last updated 5th July 2011

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