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Combating Misinformation About Prostate Cancer Treatments

When it comes to your prostate cancer treatment, you may feel like you are not getting all the answers you need. Turning to online sources may seem like the best option. But how do you know fact from fiction when looking at these sources? Can YouTube give you the same or better information that your own doctor can provide?

In this age of technology and information at your fingertips, knowing how to separate fact from fiction in medicine can help you decide on the right treatment choices.

Dr. YouTube: Fact or fiction?

YouTube is the largest video-sharing social media platform, viewed by nearly 3 out of 4 adults in the United States. It comes as no surprise that prostate cancer and its treatments are a popular topic on the site. In fact, there are more than 600,000 videos about prostate cancer alone.1,2

Doctors who make up a panel of social media experts reviewed the top 150 of these videos. The videos had up to 1.3 million views. Each video was scored on:1,2

  • Accuracy
  • Misinformation
  • Commercial bias (information presented in a way that attempts to sway opinion toward a certain product)

The study found that 77 percent of the videos had bias or misinformation in either the video or its comment section. Another finding was that users were often drawn to less scientific-backed videos. Only 53 percent of the videos discussed harmful effects of treatments, leading to dangerous misinformation about prostate cancer treatment options.2

Unanswered questions

When viewing these types of videos, it is important to ask yourself: Is the information reliable? How can you separate fact from fiction in these videos? Before believing a treatment that seems to have all the answers, be a skeptic. Seek and find proof in the evidence of science-based clinical studies. If you have a hard time finding these or you have questions that cannot seem to be answered, the treatment may not be based on research.

When was the video made?

How old is the video? Medicine is quickly changing, and anything filmed more than 1 year ago may be outdated.1

Who made the video?

Do you recognize the source as someone who is reputable and recognizable in the field of prostate cancer? If you are unsure, chances are the video may not be the most valid source. Reputable organizations such as government agencies and nonprofits are good sources of information.1

What results are being reported? Only the good ones?

Another thing to ask yourself: What type of health result is being reported? Does the video show a miracle breakthrough or medical cure? Research and science is a slow and steady pace. Be cautious about therapies that only speak to a cure and do not speak to side effects or downsides to the therapy.1

Who should you believe?

Remember, it is always best to talk to your doctor about any therapies you are curious about or want more information on. Your doctor can help you in making sure the information you are looking at is evidence-based and proven by research.

You may find social media videos helpful. But have a conversation with your doctor about what you are finding. Shared decision-making is an important part of the prostate cancer treatment journey.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The ProstateCancer.net 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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