International Journal of Clinical Oncology

, Volume 12, Issue 6, pp 440–447 | Cite as

A study of cancer information for cancer patients on the internet

  • Tomohiro Morita
  • Hiroto Narimatsu
  • Tomoko Matsumura
  • Yuko Kodama
  • Akiko Hori
  • Yukiko Kishi
  • Eiji Kusumi
  • Tamae Hamaki
  • Kazuhiko Kobayashi
  • Koichiro Yuji
  • Yuji Tanaka
  • Yoshinori Nakata
  • Masahiro Kami
ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Abstract

Background

There have been few studies of the information provided for cancer patients on the internet.

Methods

Using the Japanese language, we searched for cancer-related web pages, using the Google search engine, and evaluated the characteristics of the 150 top-ranked search results. We collected information on the operators of the websites, number of links, existence of a search function, and advertisements on the site. According to their contents, the 150 websites were classified into seven categories, of which five (numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6) each accounted for 20% of the websites. The categories were: (1) media-related websites (e.g., newspapers and publishers), and portal sites; (2) patient association websites, patient's diaries, blogs by patients and/or their families (n = 33); (3) websites of medical institutions (e.g., hospitals; n = 27); (4) websites of research institutions (e.g., universities; n = 35); (5) websites of pharmaceutical companies; (6) other websites providing medical information (n = 32); and (7) other websites that did not belong to categories 1–6. Outgoing links were common in websites created by media-related organizations (median, 13) or patients and their families (median, 15), but such links were not common in the other types of websites (median, 0–4). Eight of the 13 cancer based hospitals in Japan, as well as the National Cancer Center were publishing general cancer information on their websites. Of the 13 cancer based hospitals, 12 included a link to the National Cancer Center. The National Cancer Center had the largest amount of information (736 575 words), exceeding the amount provided by the other cancer based hospitals (1 622–155 515 words). Two of the 7 websites of academic associations (included in category 6) had cancer information for patients, but the document sizes were small (3230–44 091 words).

Conclusion

The website of the National Cancer Center is the most prominent source of general cancer information for patients, but it still has room for improvement in its usability.

Key words

Google Cancer patients Links Cancer care facilities Advertisement 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. 1.
    Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications2006White paper on information and communications in Japan (in Japanese)Ministry of Internal Affairs and CommunicationsTokyoGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Alper, BS 2006Usefulness of online medical informationAm Fam Physician74482485PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Berland, GK, Elliott, MN, Morales, LS,  et al. 2001Health information on the Internet: accessibility, quality, and readability (in English and Spanish)JAMA28526122621PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    D'Alessandro, DM, Kingsley, P, Johnson-West, J 2001The readability of pediatric patient education materials on the World Wide WebArch Pediatr Adolesc Med155807812PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Newnham, GM, Burns, WI, Snyder, RD,  et al. 2006Information from the Internet: attitudes of Australian oncology patientsIntern Med J36718723PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Akiba, T, Yamashita, M, Sato, S,  et al. 2002Requests for second opinions through the Internet reveal the feelings and concerns of patients with lung cancer and their familiesJpn J Lung Cancer42589592Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Matsumoto, A, Aragaki, M, Ying, FZ,  et al. 2005How Japanese breast cancer survivors perceive the internet as a health information resource : an internet survey with mailing list participantsJpn J Med Informatics25151159Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Google [home page on the Internet] 2006 [cited 2006 December 22]; Available from: http://www.google.co.jp/Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Search engine optimization. [Home page on the Internet] 2007 [cited 2007 July 6]; Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Search_engine_optimizationGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Web Trigger Back link checker. [home page on the Internet] 2005 [cited 2006 December 22]; Available from: http://system.webtrigger.jp/backlink.phpGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare Home Page (in Japanese). [Home page on the internet] 2006 [cited 2006 December 22]; Available from: http://www.mhlw.go.jp/new-info/map.htmlGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Aichi Cancer Center Home Page (in Japanese). [Home page on the internet] 2006 [cited 2006 December 22]; Available from: http://www.pref.aichi.jp/cancer-center/Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    National Kyushu Cancer Center Home Page (in Japanese). [Home page on the internet] 2006 [cited 2006 December 22]; Available from: http://www.niigata-cc.jp/home.htmlGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    National Cancer Center Home Page (in Japanese). [home page on the Internet] 2006 August 4 [cited 2006 December 22]; Available from: http://www.ncc.go.jp/jp/Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Fujitsu Research Institute Home Page (in Japanese). [Home page on the internet] 2006 [cited 2006 December 22]; Available from: http://jp.fujitsu.com/group/fri/report/cyber/basic/information/ad.htmlGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare Home Page (in Japanese). [Home page on the internet] 2006 [cited 2006 December 22]; Available from: http://www.mhlw.go.jp/topics/2006/02/tp0201–2.html.?Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Niigata Cancer Center Home Page (in Japanese). [Home page on the internet] 2006 [cited 2006 October 22]; Available from: http://www.niigata-cc.jp/home.htmlGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Japan Society of Clinical Oncology 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tomohiro Morita
    • 1
  • Hiroto Narimatsu
    • 2
  • Tomoko Matsumura
    • 1
  • Yuko Kodama
    • 1
  • Akiko Hori
    • 1
  • Yukiko Kishi
    • 3
  • Eiji Kusumi
    • 1
  • Tamae Hamaki
    • 1
    • 4
  • Kazuhiko Kobayashi
    • 5
  • Koichiro Yuji
    • 6
  • Yuji Tanaka
    • 1
  • Yoshinori Nakata
    • 7
  • Masahiro Kami
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Exploratory Research, the Institute of Medical Sciencethe University of TokyoTokyoJapan
  2. 2.Department of Hematology and OncologyNagoya University Graduate School of MedicineNagoyaJapan
  3. 3.Division of Regenerative MedicineJichi Medical SchoolTochigiJapan
  4. 4.Department of Transfusion MedicineMetropolitan Fuchu HospitalTokyoJapan
  5. 5.Department of HematologyJR Tokyo General HospitalTokyoJapan
  6. 6.Department of Internal Medicine, the Institute of Medical Sciencethe University of TokyoTokyoJapan
  7. 7.Medical Information and System Research Center Teikyo UniversityTokyoJapan

Personalised recommendations