OK, so the WoMMeN team like to keep abreast of the situation, as it were, and we like to keep up-to-date with new developments in breast screening techniques, research and ideas. But how easy is it to find all this on the Internet? Well, we’ve just tried to make it a little easier for you – read on….
The truth is out there – or is it?
Looking for information on the internet is only easy if you know where to look in the first place. Search engines such as Google and Bing are great, but when you’re a woman, looking for information about women’s health issues, what you can get from the internet is TMI – too much information. Typing in ‘new techniques for breast screening’ for example, can bring up nearly half a million results – say what??! I can’t read all that!
How do you narrow it down? How do you know what research is out there? What if it’s ‘bad science’? Let’s face it, there are reputable and trustworthy sources, and then there’s some places that will subtly distort any story just to get that clickable shock-horror headline. Meanwhile, we’re none the wiser as to whether that ‘new blood test’ is any good or not!
And then again, when you’re looking for information on medical matters, you want high quality clinical trials, research and evidence – all the things that the doctors want, from the same place that the doctors got it. There’s the thing – they’re in medical jargon, and that’s a language of its own, understandable to the doctors and academics that they are written for. Not to mention, they may well be ‘subscription only’ – meaning that you must pay to see the article that describes the research.
How do you get around this? Well, there are a few places where research is collected together and re-written in plain English so that you can get a clear picture of what is being said. There’s also websites that will let you know about any research trials on cancer, diagnosis and new technologies. Here, the WoMMeN present links to the websites with the latest happenings in breast cancer screening techniques, mammography and other health research.
NHS Choices – Behind the Headlines
This was set up in 2007, and wants to explain in clear terms the scientific studies that end up in the daily news headlines. It’s not easily searchable, so is best viewed on the day, or in the few days after you’ve seen the headline that grabbed your attention – ‘Coffee causes cancer’, anyone?
You can find the site here
This is a worldwide network of researchers, health professionals, patients and others who independently look at all the research done on a particular topic, and looks whether the evidence shows whether a treatment or test works or not. This is called a systematic review, and works on the principle that if many different research trials come up with the same answer, then this is more likely to be the right answer, rather than relying on one research trial alone that may be flawed in design or how it was carried out.
The database is searchable here and is updated monthly.
Cancer Research UK
A UK based charity, whose purpose is to carry out high quality research into all cancers and all aspects of cancer, with the aim of finding a cure. Their webpage includes a searchable database of clinical trials that are still recruiting; this gives you or anyone you know an opportunity to contribute to up-to-date research.
This site also may show you what current ideas are out there regarding breast screening and cancer; especially on the subject of ‘personalised screening’, where individual screening programmes based on how likely the person was to get cancer, rather than the one-size-fits-all approach of say, screening every two or three years. They concentrate on the biology of cancer, and explain in easy to understand terms what it is here
It’s also a good site for statistics on cancer – explained in easy to understand graphs and images rather than too much writing, (for which the WoMMeN are very grateful!) there’s no ‘wall of text’ to confuse you here
The National Institute for Health Research
This is the research arm of the NHS in the UK. They support research in the NHS, as well as making sure that any new discoveries are quickly moved into clinical practice so that patients can start to benefit. This site is useful for finding out what is happening, but it’s not as easy to read as other sites.
It’s Research and Impact section includes a section on ‘emerging health technologies’ which links to other sites where you can search new technological developments here
If you feel like having a go at reading original research studies, their journals library is free to view here, and fully searchable, but this is not light reading material!
So that’s just a taste of what’s out there
We hope you find the links useful when you’re looking for information about breast cancer screening; if you find other useful sites, we’d love to know – please comment below this post and we’ll follow it up!