A team of academics from the University of Manchester is investigating whether Google diagnosis could impact on lung cancer survival rates.
Lung cancer has one of the lowest survival rates of any cancer and experts believe this is because people don’t get treatment early enough, or recognise their symptoms.
In an age of “diagnosis by Google” researchers are looking at what information is available online to people suffering from lung cancer.
Funded by the Medical Research Council, it will include a systematic review of what’s on the internet and how this information can be improved.
They will also interview patients who’ve been diagnosed with lung cancer within the last 6 months to see how they found out about the disease.
“Lung cancer survival rates remain very low compared to breast cancer and there is some evidence to suggest that patients wait too long before going to their doctor,” explained chief investigator Julia Mueller, based in the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work at The University of Manchester.
“The research will look at what health information systems people use after they are having symptoms and what influences their decision to see a doctor.
“We will also look at the information available when people Google terms like nagging cough, tiredness, weight loss and how that influences their decision about whether to go and see a doctor.”
Health science and computing teams will join together for the study, which will recruit 100 patients from the North West to take part.
“The results should help us to look at how people get to these websites and what search terms they are using so that we can make sure they are directed to useful sites,” added Mueller.
“Once we have this information from patients we plan to use it to create a smart recommender system based on an understanding of online behaviour of people with lung cancer, so that existing websites can be optimised and to help direct more people to the right information.”