Cancer.Net’s 20th Anniversary: Celebrating Our Mission of Providing Trustworthy Cancer Information

This year, we mark the 20th anniversary of Cancer.Net! We are celebrating 20 years of providing trustworthy information for people with cancer, survivors, and caregivers. The best cancer care starts with the best information, and at Cancer.Net, we know how important it is to empower people with cancer by equipping them with knowledge in a compassionate, truthful way.

Cancer.Net reflects the expertise and resources of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and its nearly 45,000 members in one place. We have drawn together an Editorial Board of experts who represents the entire cancer care team, including medical oncologists, surgeons, pathologists, radiation oncologists, social workers, physical therapists, psychologists, nurses, physician assistants, and patient advocates.

I am so thankful to our first Editor in Chief, Diane Blum, MSW, FASCO, whose vision of developing an ASCO-sponsored, patient-directed website has impacted how people around the world learn about cancer. When she and other ASCO leaders first developed Cancer.Net, the goal was to develop a patient-focused website with up-to-date, reliable information about cancer, treatment options, and tips on navigating cancer. Cancer.Net was first launched in May 2002, and back then it was called People Living With Cancer (PLWC). In April 2008, the website was relaunched as Cancer.Net. Then, under the leadership of the following Editor in Chiefs Robert Miller, MD, FACP, FASCO (2013-2015) and Lidia Schapira, MD, FASCO (2015-2021), it was further redesigned to inform and empower people with cancer around the world more effectively.

Cancer.Net has received multiple honors and awards for its content, design, and ease of use. Our site contains detailed guides on more than 120 cancer types and cancer-related syndromes and in-depth information on clinical trials, coping with cancer, managing side effects, cancer caregiving, and survivorship. The information across Cancer.Net captures the most up-to-date and practice-changing research and includes expert-supported recommendations from ASCO’s Clinical Practice Guidelines.

The amount of content on Cancer.Net continues to grow and adapt to the moment. Over the past 2 years, for example, the post, “Coronavirus and COVID-19: What People With Cancer Need to Know,” written by Merry Jennifer Markham, MD, FACP, FASCO, Cancer.Net’s 2022 Associate Editor for Gynecologic Cancers, received the award of Distinction from the eHealthcare Awards in the Best COVID-19 Pandemic Related Communications category. And, most recently, our work for people with cancer in Ukraine has been an excellent resource for patients displaced by war, as has our work on providing information on managing your cancer care during other emergency situations, such as natural disasters.

Cancer.Net has evolved substantially over the past 20 years, but this evolution reflects how we have all changed within the cancer community. Our understanding of cancer has dramatically increased in these past 2 decades, with enhanced understanding of foundational science, improved technologies to detect molecular changes that drive cancer, and minimally invasive diagnostic tests. As our treatments have improved, we have witnessed better survival, and we have also focused on improving the quality of life into survivorship. As we intended from the start, we have worked at Cancer.Net to provide information that minimizes disparities in health information and meets people where they are, whether that is across the globe (we have content in 11 languages), at the beginning of the cancer journey, or when someone first steps into a caregiver role.

At the same time, technology over the past 20 years has developed by leaps and bounds, and the changes have fundamentally altered how we all gather information. Twenty years ago, most users accessed Cancer.Net on desktop computers or laptops, which at the time were slow, heavy, bulky, and expensive for many people. Now, people around the world access information from high-speed internet on their mobile phones and rely on social media to get the most up-to-date news. In light of this, Cancer.Net also delivers expert-reviewed content in podcasts and videos, as well as in an award-winning, free mobile app. With this app, users can log medications, track symptoms, record questions, and access the same high-quality information that is on the Cancer.Net website. When used consistently, this app can help manage symptoms and support communication with health care providers, both during and after cancer treatment. The app can also be used in Spanish.

We have so much to celebrate after 20 years at Cancer.Net. Importantly, we are made up of health care professionals who have noted improvements in cancer outcomes over the past 2 decades because of prevention, screening, and better treatments, and we have been able to bring information about these improvements to people with cancer so they are informed and have the best chance at a better outcome. I look forward to our next 20 years as we work to further lessen the burden of cancer for all of us.

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