Finding Information About Skin Cancer

Maybe you are like me. As soon as I want information about anything at all, I head to Google or YouTube. “How to fix a sink?”, “What is the capital of Delaware?”, no problem, I hit the search button and within a fraction of a second, I have millions of results. I never lack access to information. The issue is not in finding information, but in finding GOOD information. In the not-so-recent past, it seemed that information that was published had been scrutinized and therefore could be trusted (somewhat).

It’s the same in dealing with diseases and conditions. When it comes to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of skin cancer, there are trillions and trillions of megabytes of information at the tap of a smartphone or click of a computer button. We HAVE information at our fingertips, but is it helpful? Can it be trusted? Is it reliable? Our lives are at stake here. Here’s what I have learned in my years of research.

The role of medical professionals in information gathering

First, let me say that I will always recommend folks see a competent medical professional when they have concerns about their skin (Self-diagnosis is not recommended.). I also believe in regular checkups, even when nothing seems suspect. Competent medical professionals have the training, experience, and personal interaction required to help me make the best decisions when it comes to skin cancer. But, there are times when I don’t have access to doctors and I want information. What to do? Where do I look?

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Peer reviewed research (primary sources)

Super smart people at universities are required to do research and publish their results. Their findings are reviewed by other super smart people and only the best and most trusted findings are published in reputable journals and then sent out into Internet-land. These articles can be found in journals like the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) or the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (JAAD). I trust reputable journals like these because of the academic rigor behind their information and research results. Generally, opinion and conjecture have no place in this information.

Non-profit and healthcare-focused websites

Many respected non-profit organizations and for-profit businesses are good sources of information. These entities were formed for the purpose of serving the community by disseminating trusted information, answering questions, and engaging patients and health care providers. Most of these websites have contributing medical professionals and cite reputable research articles (see above) in their articles and information, which are vetted and reviewed for accuracy. Sites like the Skin Cancer Foundation and would fit in this category. As a contributing writer, I make every effort to produce quality, trusted content that supports evidence-based practice.

Website and blog articles

I generally only consider website articles from news sites or any other media outlet, if they cite peer reviewed research (primary sources) in their text. For the most part, I am not interested in editorial content unless it’s from a medical professional or points to generally trusted medical principles. I like reading biographical information about people who are dealing battling skin cancer. I am encouraged by them, inspired. But, I wouldn’t make medical decisions based solely on other’s experiences. I would weigh them, but only as part of a larger decision making process.

Social media, friends, colleagues and beyond

Coworkers’ thoughts, gym members’ opinions, random websites and social media sites, etc., I take this information with a grain of salt. Some will be helpful, some won’t. I am always thankful for people sharing, though. Sharing is caring.

Hope this helps. Remember, when in doubt, see your doctor.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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