Journal of Cancer Education

, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 580–584 | Cite as

Sifting Through It All: Characterizing Melanoma Patients’ Utilization of the Internet as an Information Source

  • Sarah Nicole Hamilton
  • Elena P Scali
  • Irene Yu
  • Eva Gusnowski
  • Paris-Ann IngledewEmail author


This study describes how melanoma patients used the Internet as a melanoma information source and how it impacted their clinical encounter and treatment decision. From 2010 to 2013, melanoma patients were invited to complete a 23-question paper survey with open- and close-ended questions. Thirty-one of the 62 patients approached completed the survey. The majority (90 %) of respondents used the Internet as a melanoma information source. Most (90 %) had used the search engine Google. The most commonly searched topics were melanoma treatment (96 %), screening (64 %), and prevention (64 %). While most respondents (85 %) found the Internet was a useful melanoma information source, over half (54 %) found melanoma websites at least somewhat difficult to understand. Many (78 %) believed it increased their understanding of their diagnosis, 71 % thought it influenced their treatment decision, and 59 % felt it impacted their specialist consultation. This study informs health care professionals that many melanoma patients search the Internet for information regarding their diagnosis and that it may impact their disease understanding and treatment decisions.


Melanoma Internet Skin cancer Patient education 


Conflicts of Interest



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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarah Nicole Hamilton
    • 1
    • 2
  • Elena P Scali
    • 1
    • 4
  • Irene Yu
    • 1
  • Eva Gusnowski
    • 1
  • Paris-Ann Ingledew
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Faculty of MedicineUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Department of Radiation OncologyBritish Columbia Cancer Agency—Vancouver CentreVancouverCanada
  3. 3.Department of Radiation OncologyBritish Columbia Cancer Agency—Fraser Valley CentreSurreyCanada
  4. 4.Department of Radiology, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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