According to a new study, YouTube videos about prostate cancer can mislead men who think that they do not need to be screened or that the injection of Herbs in their prostate could cure cancer.
In recent years, Americans have turned more and more to Dr. Google – rather than to their current doctors – for information about their health.
More than 60% of us spend time researching online medical issues.
The Internet contains countless (unverified) information that may be useful to you if you plan to change your plan, for example.
But the stakes are much higher for cancer patients, who are increasingly choosing alternative treatments rather than proven treatments such as chemotherapy.
A new study from New York University found that 77% of the 150 most-watched YouTube videos on prostate cancer contained misleading or biased information that could encourage patients to undergo unnecessarily aggressive – and dangerous – surgeries.
According to a new study, there are more than half a million YouTube videos on prostate cancer, but 77% of them could mislead their millions of viewers.
Every year in the United States, nearly 165,000 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed.
In addition to skin cancer, the prostate is the most common form of cancer in American men – but this does not make the diagnosis less scary for new patients or men worried about the disease.
That's probably why there are so many videos about prostate cancer with so many views on YouTube.
There are more than 600,000 prostate cancer videos on the popular platform – more videos than people in the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Each of these has an average of 45,000 views, although some have as many as 1.3 million.
Researchers at New York University, however, found that many of these videos contained incorrect information or did not meet US guidelines on how to talk about cancer to patients or to define potentially confusing medical terms. .
Perhaps most disturbingly, the higher the scientific quality of the research, the lower the number of viewers – and vice versa, the most inaccurate videos are those that patients most likely seek for their comfort and education.
About a quarter of the videos were on the edge of promotion, showing a bias towards new technologies, and almost 20% advocated complementary treatments (which may be useful, but are not as tested as conventional treatments) or alternative therapies, which can be downright dangerous.
For example, a video focused on injecting herbs into the prostate as a cancer treatment and was viewed more than 300,000 times, said Dr. Stacy Loeb, a urologist at New York University and a urologist.
"It's not recommended in the guidelines," she added.
The first YouTube result if we search today for "prostate cancer" (in addition to an ad video on HPV showing a teenager in the vignette) was uploaded by UCLA Health and introduces Dr. Mark Litwin, urologist, and former Major League Baseball player, Steve Garvey.
The video begins with Dr. Litwin discouraging "willy-nilly" screenings of prostate cancer and just over half of Garvey tells his story, extols the virtues of Dr. Litwin's and UCLA's procedures and presents himself as a "follower" of prostate awareness efforts at UCLA.
The video successfully passes one of NYU's landmark tests.
This was probably due to the fact that the videos were older than the most recent directives.
In 2012, the US Preventative Services Task Force issued guidelines "by default not recommending cancer for all men".
Last year, that changed. Instead, the working group advised physicians and patients to weigh the pros and cons of tests.
Dr. Litwin stated at the beginning of the 45-minute video that patients and their physicians should discuss together when screening is appropriate or not and is a priority.
In doing so, Dr. Litwin described "shared decision making" or coordinated physician-patient planning recommended by current guidelines for prostate cancer screening.
Only about half of the top 150 videos reviewed by NYU researchers have described or encouraged this form of discussion.
"Fortunately, prostate cancer is a very fast and dynamic area," says Dr. Loeb. & # 39;
"That means we're making more discoveries, more drugs have been approved, and the guidelines have changed over the years. It also means that information from three years ago may no longer be true. & # 39;
The UCLA video has also highlighted a rather aggressive treatment plan (though it may be acting best for Garvey) and uses a very supportive discussion about Dr's methods. Litwin.
One speaker took note.
"It was not until the forty-first minute of this forty-seven minute video that Garvey or Litwin addressed the issue of surgical side effects – even in this case, little information was provided – which leads me to ask me; Was this video created as a public service that they claim, or was it just a somewhat informative informative advertisement for the UCLA urology department? ? & # 39; wrote Steve K (although there is informative material at the beginning of the video).
This suggests that the video was guilty of at least some signs of bias in favor of the surgery and UCLA itself.
And this is potentially problematic, as studies have shown that 70% of new patients diagnosed with prostate cancer are in the early stages of the disease, while surgery has little benefit, for the majority.
The concern then is that men in distress who have just been diagnosed may be willing to say yes to more invasive, more expensive, but not more effective treatments, if they watch YouTube videos that promote it.
"Our study shows that people really need to be wary of many prostate cancer YouTube videos," says Dr. Stacy Loeb, Principal Investigator and Urologist.
"They contain valuable information, but users need to check the source for credibility and be cautious about the speed with which videos become obsolete, with care guidelines constantly evolving with science."
Dr. Loeb noted that many videos are old and that doctors would do well to engage on platforms such as YouTube and social media to encourage patients to visit less eye-catching, but more accurate, information sites. than Prostate. Cancer Foundation (which helped fund the study) and the National Cancer Institute.
"I think we clinicians have a responsibility to participate in the public dialogue to ensure the quality of the content," says Dr. Loeb. "We should therefore be actively involved in social media content."