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Patient education - why it is important!

Because nobody cares about you as much as you do.

There are patients who believe that the doctors know the best and they should be making the decisions. There are also patients who like to know what is going on and actively participate in the process of decision making. If someone has no clue of what is going on, probably they are better off with the first choice. But if someone wants to make an educated decision about their treatment options together with their doctors, they should be able to do so.


So now the inevitable question is where do the patients get their educational materials? Well, without much thinking we all search online for information. But don't you think that there is a massive problem with this approach? The main problem is knowing that the information is authentic. For example, let's talk about cancer treatment options. The cancer treatment landscape is not only vast, it is constantly changing, it is complicated and filled with technical terms and high level biomedical concepts. So it is easy to get frustrated and overwhelmed and feel lost.


The next most powerful tool is the social media and the cancer support groups. Here people discuss their real life experience and support fellow warriors and become a family. In these groups, sometimes I have seen people ask very scientific questions. Generally people attempt to answer the questions to the best of their ability, without the occasional posts trying to sell their products. But there is no way to know how accurate they are.


The credible websites for cancer related information are www.cancer.gov and www.nih.gov , www.fda.gov, www.clinicaltrials.gov and https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/. There are other websites as well. But the challenge is to know what to look for and where to look for it.


The doctors like self-advocating patients. There are several reasons for that. To be a self-advocate, the patient needs to do background research and learn about the options and outcomes. This makes it easy for the healthcare professional to discuss the situation, decide on the course of treatment and manage patient expectations.




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