It’s important to use trusted resources when it comes to your health or that of a loved one, but verifying a cancer website’s credentials is a multistep – and often time-consuming – process. Our medical librarians from the University of Michigan Health System and Comprehensive Cancer Center have selected the best online cancer resources so you don’t have to.
If you don’t know the answer to a question, what do you do? You can search the Internet to find information about cancer, but even on reliable websites, statistics and medical data can be confusing. Filter information through your doctor to clarify concerns and get answers about your treatment.
The National Cancer Institute suggests “Questions You Should Ask” when evaluating online sources of health information.
- Who manages this information?
The person or group that has published health information online should be identified somewhere.
- Who is paying for the project, and what is their purpose?
You should be able to find this in the “About Us” section.
- What is the original source of the information that they have posted?
If the information was originally published in a research journal or a book, they should say which so that you can find it.
- How is information reviewed before it get posted?
Most health information publications have someone with medical or research credentials (e.g., someone who has earned an MD, DO, or PhD) review the information before it gets posted, to make sure it is correct.
- How current is the information?
Online health information sources should show you when the information was posted or last reviewed.
- If they are asking for personal information, how will they use that information and how will they protect your privacy?
This is very important. Do not share personal information until you understand the policies under which it will be used and you are comfortable with any risk involved in sharing your information online.
Have you been misled by a website? Share your experience with us and help others avoid bogus websites.
Where to Get More Help
U-M Cancer AnswerLine – 1-800-865-1125
Federal Trade Commission:
It’s important to use trusted resources when it comes to your health or that of a loved one, but verifying a cancer website’s credentials is a multistep — and often time-consuming — process.
“You want to make sure that the information you find on the Internet has the same level of credibility as your physician,” says Ruti Volk, M.S.I., A.H.I.P., the University of Michigan Health System’s Patient Education librarian and former manager of the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Patient Education Resource Center. “It’s important to check a website’s credentials, because if you base a decision on bad, inaccurate or outdated information, you can really cause yourself a lot of harm,” she says.
Volk, an award-winning medical librarian, shares her choices for the best online cancer resources so cancer patients, their family and friends can focus on what’s important: time together.