National Cancer Institute (NCI) and Susan G. Komen Foundation websites provide more information about breast cancer-related treatments than do websites of NCI-designated centers, according to a study being presented at the 2017 ASCO Quality Care Symposium.1
In a press release, the study’s lead author, Caleb Delaney, MD, of the University of Alabama in Birmingham, noted the “explosion” of information about cancer that can now be found online.2 This overabundance of information can be daunting for patients, especially when some information is outdated or difficult to access.
For this evaluative study, researchers attempted to determine the “quality and accessibility” of treatment information by reviewing the websites of 63 NCI cancer centers, the NCI website, and the Susan G. Komen Foundation website. Blinded reviewers measured quality of information “using 33 questions from 3 validated Breast Cancer Decision Quality Instruments.”
No particular site answered all 33 questions. The NCI and Komen websites answered 85% and 88%, respectively, of the questions; the average percent of questions answerable on the 63 websites was only 21%. Sixteen percent of the reviewed websites did not provide enough information to answer any of the 33 questions.
Accessibility, in part measured by clicks necessary to reach the relevant information, was high, with 94% of websites having breast cancer–relevant information available within 2 clicks.
The authors concluded that website-based information about breast cancer should be improved, though NCI and Komen websites offer more information than do NCI cancer center websites.
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One limitation not specified by the authors in the abstract is whether the 33 evaluated questions would be relevant for all patients, some of whom may need simplified, in-depth, or subtype-specific information.
- Dulaney C, Wakefield DV, Rocque GB, De Los Santos JF. Quality of information addressing treatment options for women with breast cancer on NCI cancer center websites. J Clin Oncol. 2017;35:(suppl 8S; abstract 135).
- Study examines cancer center websites’ information on breast cancer treatment, outcomes [news release]. Alexandria, VA: American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO); February 27, 2017. http://www.asco.org/about-asco/press-center/news-releases/study-examines-cancer-center-websites-information-breast. Accessed March 1, 2017.