To Jalal Baig
My patient, Mrs. B., was in her thirties when she was diagnosed with early breast cancer. (Her name was changed for the sake of privacy.) Although this type of cancer had some aggressive properties, management seemed to me to be achievable through timely surgery, chemo, and radiation.
But this treatment plan seemed particularly stressful and gratuitous to Mrs. Ms. B from the beginning. She regularly expressed suspicion about her effectiveness and seemed to disbelieve whenever I advised her on her details. This distrust, I was worried, came from the internet. She was upset because none of the treatments offered to the "medical advice" that she received from Dr. med. Google received, and their social media newsfeed corresponded. For them, these sources had supplanted our evidence-based policies and clinical experiences.
In a moment when political misinformation and President Donald Trump's attacks on the free press continue to receive considerable ink and coverage, it is medical misinformation that, as Duke cardiologist Haider Warraich said in the past year New York Times wrote, "An even bigger body could have counted. "And with fake cancer news metastasized on the Internet, the administration and prevention of an already ruthless disease is becoming increasingly treacherous.
SUBSCRIBE TO THINK WEEKLY NEWSLETTER
This type of news article would inevitably change the course of Ms. B's cancer. Upon completion of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy should eradicate local and systemic residual cancer cells. However, she decided against further treatment and cited stories that natural therapies such as vitamins, juices and extracts found to be superior alternatives. This was the path she had chosen and we had to accept him despite our obvious reservations.
It was almost a year before we saw Mrs. B. again. Imaging showed that a potentially curable condition now destroyed several vital organs simultaneously. Unfortunately she died because of these complications.
A recent editorial in The Lancet Oncology has torn the yawning lack of trust between the public and the masses of healthcare professionals. "At the center of this crisis is a collision between personal autonomy, captivating journalism, social media, widespread disinformation, and political marginalization that together undermine the value of science and academic endeavor," the authors state.
Oncology This conflict emerges in many ways. Most often there is tension between doctors and patients when the patient self-diagnoses and asks for specific treatments such as immunotherapy, regardless of the oncologist's information. Even more worrying is the increasing tendency of patients to enter the murky waters of alternative, unprotected therapies. These often affect patients because they are only halfway through the toxicity and inefficiency of chemotherapy or because a belief system equates "all natural" with curative.
Two Important Studies in JAMA Oncology and in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute investigated the association between the use of complementary and alternative medicine, the compliance of alternative therapies with conventional treatment (surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and / or hormone therapy) and overall survival in cancer patients. The studies concluded that patients using alternative medicine are more likely to abuse traditional, clinically proven therapies. Those who opt for alternative medicine or complementary medicine die more than twice as often as those seeking traditional treatments.
Those who choose alternative medicine or complementary medicine die more than twice as often as those who seek traditional treatments.
This is aggravated by viral, Clickbait news articles about cancer that are misleading and suggest false perceptions. For example, a recent story in the Jerusalem Post titled "A Cure for Cancer? The Israeli scientists believe that they have found one. The piece reported on a small company called Accelerated Evolution Biotechnologies, whose CEO claimed to "provide a complete cure for cancer in a year's time".
It was brave to publish such fantastic claims as The Company is not conducting any human trials and has not even released any of the data from its single study on mice. No independent oncology experts were asked to comment on the laboratory's speculative work. It was also not mentioned that up to 97 percent of cancer drugs fail when tested on humans.
These shortcomings did not prevent the shimmering headline from being reinforced by Fox News, the New York Post, Forbes, local television news, and far-right figures like Glenn Beck and Jacob Wohl. The accuracy of the content was of little importance in social media, where misinformation spreads faster than attempts to retract or correct it. A 2015 study on the content of the New York Times Health News article stated that this is particularly true for health news that includes "positive feelings" and is "emotionally evocative."
In addition to articles, medical misunderstandings are also spread via e-mail. Johns Hopkins had to turn to an e-mail joke after his name was used to spread false information about cancer. According to the anonymous authors, cancer was attributed to nutritional deficiencies that were said to live in all bodies, spread through surgery, and constitute a mental, physical, and mental disorder.
The Duke cardiologist Warraich rightly recognizes the temptation to Google's cancer-related content. Apart from patients who have different skepticism about medical sciences and institutions, "the Internet requires neither a date nor a long wait, it is not hurried, it does not judge, it does not require hefty overheads, and it often provides information that is easy to understand.
In addition, a patient's susceptibility to fake cancer news is not due to paranoia. As a physician and executive director of the Penn Medicine Center for Health Care Innovation, David A. Asch says, "It's insightful why people believe what they're doing." Mostly, there is a certain unproven or belief-based belief system to grasp these thoughts or it is borne out of a search for hope in the face of a bleak prognosis. (And this, without going into the various financial reasons, can motivate patients to commit to more favorable second opinions.)
Responsibility begins with the scientific community and oncologists who best understand the interests here.
In a disturbing perspective on a time after the truth, Silicon Valley and the news media must be vigilant. Responsibility begins, however, with the scientific community and oncologists who best understand the stakes here.
Scientists should ensure that the new data and conclusions they provide from the studies are duly scrutinized and accurate by experts to discredit the cancer misinformation. They should have a strong presence in news and digital media to educate laypersons and patients on the implications of their work and important research concepts.
While oncologists may refer their patients to resources for evaluating online health information or information To directly address questions, they must, as Warraich points out, "weave our science into stories" to regain confidence. Their greatest asset will forever be the ability to humanize the cancer experience at the bedside in order to dispel the abstract sciences and their misunderstandings.
At a time when cancer drugs are spreading and the disease is much more manageable in history than ever before, we can not lose.