#LCSM Chat Topic 1/26: Education and Shared Decision Making for Cancer Patients in the Era of Fake News and Post-Truths


Though there are many terrific features of social media and sharing of information among patients and caregivers, the last year has also reminded us of the potential harms of easy sharing of misinformation.  “Fake news” may have always been a potential threat, but the decentralization of information sources and “hyper-partisanship” makes it very easy for people to seek information primarily if not exclusively from sources that feed our own biases rather than challenging them with new perspectives.

Though the media have largely focused the concept of fake news and post-truths through the lens of politics, fake news is a tremendous challenge to good patient education and patient/physician communication.  Fake news, as well as its little brother, excessive and unjustified media hype, also drain the limited resource of time from clinic visits as physicians struggle to counter misinformation and redirect patients to more evidence-based treatments. At the same time, physicians may also fall prey to their own biases and make recommendations based on dubious sources.

Like the anti-vaccine campaign that has been definitively proven to be predicated on misinformation but remains widely perpetuated, cancer care is replete with concepts like alkaline therapy, the Gerson diet, antineoplastons, and cannabis oil as cancer treatments that are widely disseminated despite no clinical evidence beyond testimonials. Many of these have been around for decades, remaining unproven if not conclusively proven to offer no benefit. Social media and online communities facilitate the perpetuation of any kind of information, including myth as well as fact. It has been challenging to try to filter off the misinformation or train people to reliably identify more questionable sources of content, particularly if it says what people want to hear.

This Thursday, January 26th, at 8 PM Eastern, 5 PM Pacific, our #LCSM chat will turn to the question of how the lung cancer community, including patients, caregivers, and physicians, can try to raise the quality of shared information and better filter the fake news and misinformation from genuine, fact and evidence-based treatment recommendations.  We will explore the following questions:

T1) Are unproven/disproved treatments “alternative truths” or “fake news”? Is there room for them alongside evidence-based options?

T2) Is myth favored over fact due to poor education or wrong sources of info? Do many pts seek info only from fake news sources?

T3) Are there ways to reliably identify what should be considered most credible sources of info about cancer treatments?

T4) Are there ways to counter cancer misinformation? Are pts/caregivers better equipped to do as “peers”, or docs in clinic visits?

This should be a dynamic discussion, so we hope you’ll join us for the #LCSM chat on Thursday, 1/26.  Please remember to include #lcsm in ALL your tweets so the other chat participants can see them. You can also read a primer on participating in the chat .

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: