HealthDay News — One-third of the most popular cancer treatment articles on social media contain misinformation, according to a study published online July 22 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Skyler B. Johnson, MD, from University of Utah in Salt Lake City, and colleagues sought to quantify the accuracy of cancer treatment information on social media. For each of the four most common cancers (breast, prostate, lung, and colorectal), 2 cancer experts reviewed 50 of the most popular social media articles.

The researchers found that of 200 total articles, 32.5% contained misinformation and 30.5% contained harmful information. For articles with misinformation, the median number of engagements was greater than factual articles (median, 2300 vs 1600). Similarly, among articles with harmful information, the median number of engagements was statistically significantly greater compared with safe articles (median, 2300 vs 1500).

“As a medical community, we can’t ignore the problem of cancer misinformation on social media or ask our patients to ignore it,” Johnson said in a statement. “We must empathize with our patients and help them when they encounter this type of information.”


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Several authors disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical and medical companies.

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