A charity has appointed a digital nurse to talk to cancer patients online as it fears those who look up their disease could be left needlessly frightened.
Macmillian Cancer Support has created the role to combat ‘fake news’ in response to a growing demand for online information about cancer diagnosis and treatment.
The Digital Nurse Specialist will be dedicated to answering questions from people affected by cancer online, on Macmillan’s social media platforms and the charity’s online community.
Michael Gray, aged 60, was diagnosed with rectal cancer in 2013. Michael had been experiencing symptoms of the disease for some time and did not want to worry his family so turned to the internet for information.
He said: “I started suspecting something wasn’t right about nine months before my diagnosis. I didn’t want to worry my wife so secretly looked up my symptoms on the internet.
“The websites confirmed my worst fears and naturally I was terrified. The terror was compounded by the fact I had recently lost both my parents to cancer. My only hope was that I was young.
“After my diagnosis and during my treatment my wife avidly looked for information on the internet. I had to keep away from the internet, it was too scary.”
Macmillan research has revealed that an estimated 60,000 people across the country who have wcancer thought they were going to die after looking up information about their disease online.
In addition to rolling out this new Digital Nurse role, Macmillan is calling for greater support for cancer patients online with healthcare professionals receiving more training on the digital information available to their patients, so they can signpost them to trusted sites.