Journal of Cancer Education

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 127–133 | Cite as

“5 Mins of Uncomfyness Is Better than Dealing with Cancer 4 a Lifetime”: an Exploratory Qualitative Analysis of Cervical and Breast Cancer Screening Dialogue on Twitter

  • Courtney R. LylesEmail author
  • Andrea López
  • Rena Pasick
  • Urmimala Sarkar

Abstract is a “micro-blogging” website. Although Twitter use is growing rapidly, little is known about health behavior discussions on this site, even though a majority of messages are publicly available. We retrieved publicly available Twitter messages during a 5-week period in early 2012, searching separately for the terms “Pap smear” and “mammogram.” We used content analysis to code each 140-character message, generating a separate coding framework for each cancer screening term and calculating the frequencies of comments. Using the brief account description, we also coded the author as individual, organization, or news media outlet. There were 203 Pap smear and 271 mammogram messages coded, over three fourths of which were from individual accounts. Overall, 22 % of Pap smear messages and 25 % of mammogram messages discussed personal experiences, including attending appointments, negative sentiment about the procedure, and results. Other messages from both individuals and organizations (8 % Pap smear, 18 % mammogram) promoted screening. About one quarter of the messages expressed personal experiences with cancer screening. This demonstrates that Twitter can be a rich source of information and could be used to design new health-related interventions.


Online social media Pap smear Mammogram 



All authors have fulfilled the criteria for authorship established by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors and approved submission of the manuscript.

Conflict of interest

None of the authors had conflicts of interest. Dr. Sarkar was supported by a AHRQ career development award K08 HS017594. None of the funders had any role in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, or interpretation of the data; or preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Courtney R. Lyles
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
    Email author
  • Andrea López
    • 1
    • 2
  • Rena Pasick
    • 1
    • 3
  • Urmimala Sarkar
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of MedicineUniversity of California San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA
  2. 2.Center for Vulnerable Populations at San Francisco General HospitalUniversity of California San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA
  3. 3.Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer CenterUniversity of California San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA
  4. 4.Center for Vulnerable Populations, Division of General Internal Medicine at SFGHUCSFSan FranciscoUSA

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