Social Media - Not Science - Says Men and Women Face Cancer Differently

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In a surprising study by the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, marketers analyzed the results of posts in cancer forums and other online communities, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

It's amazing that one of the leading medical organizations in the U.S. is using social media as a real way to collect and analyze data, as opposed to traditional, scientific sources.

The study revealed that men with prostate cancer are more likely to be methodical and though-driven, seeking out several doctors' opinions and analyzing research, while women are more likely to be distrustful of science and the medical industry, opting for drastic treatments such as a double mastectomy.

These discoveries are stirring up old, deep-rooted gender stereotypes - in this case, the belief that guys are focused and results-oriented while girls are emotional and volatile.

However, prostate and breast cancers are the only types of cancer in which researchers have discovered a huge difference between the way men and women cope. They haven't noticed a significant difference when it comes to lymphoma or lung cancer, according to Ido Hadari, CEO of Treato, a company that collects data about medications and diseases from all over the web to present to patients in an easily digestible way. Hadari chalks this up to prostate and breast cancers playing a role in sexual identity.

However, many other researches are casting doubt on these results, saying that the women who gravitate toward online forums are a biased sample. Hmm.

It's super interesting that medical organization are turning toward social media to collect data. According to the WSJ, its mission is:

Sloan-Kettering is hoping the analysis will help it grapple with the growing role social media and online support groups play in guiding people on how to make decisions on cancer care. The hospital also expects the study will help it understand how patients speak and think about their cancers, so as to be better attuned to their needs.

Do you think that social media is a valid source to draw medical conclusions from? Or should they just stick to science?


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