Internet research boosts cancer confidence

In collaboration with the Press Association

Recently diagnosed cancer patients who use the internet to research their condition are more likely to be optimistic and are more active participants in their treatment, a new study has suggested.

Patients who used online information were more likely to view their relationship with their doctors as a "partnership" and were more comfortable asking questions about their condition.

They were also more likely to play an active role in weighing up the treatments available to them.

"This is the first study to look at the relationship between internet use and patient behavior," said principal investigator and public health professor Sarah Bass.

"We wanted to see if access to readily available information about their condition helped patients to cope with issues such as hair loss and other treatment side effects."

The study warned about automatically trusting online sites however, and recommended users rely on sites run by well recognised non-profit organisations and those recommended by their doctors.

"This is an interesting study and supports our long held belief that access to good quality information sources can help people to feel involved and empowered during their experience of cancer," said Martin Ledwick of Cancer Research UK.

"However, we would argue that information needs to be available in a variety of formats to suit different needs. This study did not compare internet information with any other sources of information," he added.

"We whole heartedly support the author's note of caution that people need to be directed to good quality sources of information. Cancer Research UK runs a patient information website (www.cancerhelp.org.uk) and a Patient Information phone service (020 7061 8355)."