“For 10 years, Cancer.Net has reflected the voice of the physician and given people with cancer and their loved ones the tools they need to actively participate in their cancer care. ASCO has used all the technological advances of the past decade to make information more accessible, interactive, and easier to understand. Now, patients can access Cancer.Net not just on their computers but on smartphones and other devices and use the resources of the website as they navigate the health-care system.”
—Diane Blum, MSW
Since ASCO’s patient education website was first launched in May 2002 as People Living With Cancer, a primary goal has been to provide a trusted resource that oncology professionals could feel confident referring their patients to. A key strength of the website—known today as Cancer.Net (www.cancer.net)—is the rigorous medical review process by its Editorial Board, which is made up of more than 150 oncologists of all subspecialties, other physician specialists, nurses, physician assistants, social workers, and patient advocates. The frequent, high-level review of Cancer.Net’s content by ASCO members allows it to stand out among the sea of cancer websites.
As technology and progress in cancer research and treatment have evolved, so has Cancer.Net. The depth and range of topics covered by the site have increased, and the experience for website users has become more interactive. Read below to learn how ASCO’s patient education program has grown, and take a fresh look at all that Cancer.Net has to offer your patients.
Guides to Cancer: In May 2002, Cancer.Net provided detailed sections on 22 different types of cancer. Now, patients and their family and friends can learn about more than 120 types of cancer and cancer-related syndromes at www.cancer.net/cancer.
Focus on Other Aspects of Cancer Care: To help patients cope with all facets of a cancer diagnosis, Cancer.Net added specific sections addressing common concerns surrounding cancer care that patients experience, such as survivorship (www.cancer.net/survivors), physical, emotional, and family issues (www.cancer.net/coping), costs of cancer care, (www.cancer.net/managingcostofcare), and advanced cancer care and end-of-life care (www.cancer.net/advancedcancer). Cancer.Net also includes a section on advocacy (www.cancer.net/advocacy), recognizing that some survivors may wish to use their experience to help others with cancer.
Multimedia: To learn about cancer in 2002, visitors to the site had one option—to read articles. Now, patients can listen to podcasts (www.cancer.net/podcasts), watch videos with ASCO’s members explaining important aspects of cancer care (www.cancer.net/videos), and use the Cancer.Net mobile app on their iPhone, iPad, or Android phone (www.cancer.net/app).
Social Media: In 2002, people didn’t use Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Now people use these to interact and share knowledge, including health information. Cancer.Net shares new and updated material on Facebook (www.facebook/cancerdotnet), Twitter (www.twitter.com/cancerdotnet), and Google Plus (www.plus.google.com), and posts videos on YouTube (www.youtube.com/cancerdotnet). Cancer.Net also has an RSS feed to announce weekly feature articles, podcasts, and videos on special topics to those who sign up at www.cancer.net/feeds.
Printed Patient Education Materials: While the use of the Internet to find health information has grown significantly during the past 10 years, not everyone has access to the Internet. There is still a need for printed materials, especially those that can be easily given out in the doctor’s office. To meet this need, Cancer.Net offers Guides to Cancer and ASCO Answers fact sheets on a variety of cancer topics. In addition, Cancer.Net has worked with various ASCO committees and task forces to develop booklets about specific challenges people with cancer often face, such as managing the cost of cancer care, advanced cancer care planning, and survivorship. All of the printed patient education materials can be downloaded free from Cancer.Net or ordered in bulk for your waiting room through the ASCO University Bookstore (www.cancer.net/estore).
The efforts to constantly improve both the information on the site and how it’s delivered have helped Cancer.Net receive several honors for its content, design, and ease of use in the past 10 years. In particular, the website has been honored seven times by the annual Web Marketing Association WebAwards program, most recently in September 2011.
Cancer.Net is supported by the Conquer Cancer Foundation of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, which provides funding for breakthrough cancer research, professional education, and patient and family support. Learn more about how to support such patient-directed efforts at www.cancer.net/sitesupport. ■
Selected portions reprinted from ASCO Connection. © American Society of Clinical Oncology. “Cancer.Net Celebrates 10 Years of Helping Patients.” ASCO Connection, March 2012: 51. All rights reserved.