Online Radiation Therapy Info Lacking

Online information about a radiation treatment used for cancer patients is "generally poor," according to researchers at the University of Chicago, Reuters Health reports. Researchers looked at Web sites about intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) and found that many of them "treated IMRT as a 'cure all,'' said Dr. Arno Mundt, one of the study's researchers.

IMRT, unlike traditional radiation therapy, can customize a radiation dose to the tumor's three-dimensional shape, Reuters Health reports. Mundt and fellow researchers evaluated 77 Web sites about IMRT found using five search engines and looked at the sites' content, accuracy, balance and presentation. Although 88% of the sites had a definition for IMRT, less than one-third had information on the IMRT process and less than 50% had information on planning and delivery of the treatment. Thirty-six percent had false information, 16% had several misleading statements and only 60% had a high-accuracy score.

Mundt said that cancer specialists should be aware that their patients could have "pre-conceived views" on IMRT that physicians should be ready to dispel. The study's results were published in the journal Cancer (Boggs, Reuters Health, 8/6).

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