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Using the Internet to Find Health Information

The pros and cons of finding information on the Internet

The Internet (Web) can be a good source of breast cancer information. Within a few minutes, you can learn about the latest breast cancer research, find a clinical trial or confirm a surgeon is board certified. And, every day, more information becomes available.

Although we have access to a lot of breast cancer information on the Web, there is one major drawback – anyone can create a website about breast cancer. This can make it hard to know whether the information on a website is correct and safe.

Sources of trusted breast cancer information on the Web

How can you be sure you’re getting the best information possible? Outside of a referral from a trusted source, the best way to be sure the content of a website is correct and up-to-date is to rely on a few well-known, trusted sites. These include:

  • Federal government sites, such as the National Cancer Institute (www.cancer.gov)
  • Large university sites
  • Established health organization sites, such as Susan G. Komen®

Of course, other websites can also provide good information, but these trusted sites are often the best places to begin a search.

How to find breast cancer information on the Web

There are two main ways to find information on the Web. One is to search by topic. For example, if you are looking for information on support groups, you can search by using the words “breast cancer support groups.” If this gives too many results, you can narrow your search by adding more specific words. Adding “Dallas” should call up sites with support groups located in Dallas. Adding “survivor” should call up sites for support groups for survivors.

Another way to search is by specific name. Most organizations and government agencies have their own websites. For example, if you are looking for information from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), type in “National Cancer Institute” or “NCI.” This should call up the NCI website and give you access to their online information.

Often, you do not have to search the Web if you are given the “address” of a website (also called the URL, for uniform resource locator). By typing the URL on the “address” line of your browser, the browser will link to the site. For example, typing in the NCI’s Web address “www.cancer.gov” will link directly to the NCI website.

Learning to find information on the Web can take a little time. There is so much available that, for most people, it takes some practice to develop the skills required to find good information. Local libraries, colleges and adult education centers can help people search for information on the Web.

Updated 01/31/14 

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