A new analysis finds that when colorectal cancer patients seek out health information from the Internet and news media, they are more likely to be aware of and receive the latest treatments for their disease. To be published in the April 1, 2009, issue of CANCER, the study indicates that patients can influence their own treatment, in some cases in inappropriate ways.
Stacy Gray, MD, of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and colleagues from the NCI Center of Excellence in Cancer Communication Research at the University of Pennsylvania Annenberg School examined the relationship between information-seeking among 633 colorectal cancer patients chosen at random from the Pennsylvania Cancer Registry and the use of novel new agents for the disease. High levels of information-seeking were strongly associated with receiving treatment using targeted therapies. Patients who sought information about treatments for colorectal cancer were 2.83 times more likely to have heard about targeted therapies and 3.22 times more likely to have received targeted therapies than people who did not seek information. These associations were present for patients with advanced disease, where use of targeted therapies is US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)- approved, as well as for patients with early stages of the disease, where their use is not FDA-approved.