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Online cancer chat with a safety net

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by Cancer Research UK | News

8 July 2008

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Cancer Research UK today launches an online chat forum for cancer patients to swap stories and share experiences on how to cope with such a devastating disease.

But Cancer Chat is a forum with a difference: it has an information safety net.

This means that a Cancer Research UK team will keep a watching brief to ensure that patients are not subjected to rogue “cancer cures” or scientifically unsound information.

Anyone can have access to the messages posted on Cancer Chat but if people wish to post a message they will need to register.

And Rebekah Gibbs, cancer patient and star of TV’s Casualty, has pledged her support for the new project. “I think Cancer Chat is a brilliant idea,” she said. “I have written a public diary about what I went through with breast cancer and I have had such a heart-warming response from other people going through the same thing.

“The idea of a Cancer Chat forum means you can share information about treatment and side effects and you can really open up about your feelings online in a way that can be difficult when talking to close friends and family. And with Cancer Research UK monitoring the forum people can be reassured about the quality of information being exchanged.”

Cancer Chat will also encourage its users to check out any cancer questions on its CancerHelp UK website which is specially designed to give patients and their families 6,000 pages of up to date information that is easy to understand and explains a wide range of treatments for different types of cancer and gives details of clinical trials. There is also a UK database of cancer clinical trials.

The award-winning website attracts around one million visitors a month and Cancer Research UK hopes that some of these visitors will also want to post comments on the Cancer Chat forum.

For those who do not have access to computers and have questions about cancer, the charity’s team of cancer information nurses are available during office hours to talk over patients’ concerns on the phone.

Kate Arnold, Cancer Research UK’s director of patient information, said: “From talking to patients we have found that there is a gap in peer-to-peer support for people affected by cancer. By providing an opportunity for people to share information and experiences about cancer we hope to help meet that demand.

“We also want people to feel safe in the knowledge that if someone intentionally or mistakenly relays information that our experts know to be flawed or misleading – then they will post a message to that effect. This means that people with cancer will get the information they need.”


For media enquiries please contact the Cancer Research UK press office on 020 7061 8300, or the out of hours’ duty press officer on 07050 264059.