If you’re looking for a one-stop-shop resource for cancer patients, look no further than OncoLink. From educational information for people who are newly diagnosed to support for those going through treatments to community-building efforts for survivors, OncoLink addresses all aspects of the cancer journey.
A strong history
OncoLink traces its roots back more than two decades. It was started in 1994 by Dr. Joel Goldwein of the University of Pennsylvania, and holds the distinction as the very first comprehensive website offering cancer information. The concept of gathering medical information online was novel at the time; there were just 30,000 web pages available then, compared to the approximately 1 billion now.
As technology has evolved, the website has undergone many transformations; it began largely as a way to connect cancer patients to other sources of information but over time started publishing original content. The material itself gradually diversified, with content generated by everyone from doctors to nurses to social workers to patients themselves.
Despite its evolution, OncoLink has remained committed to its original stated goal: “to support patients, caregivers and practitioners through education.”
Material for all users
Education is everywhere on OncoLink. On the home page, visitors have the option of researching by cancer type — with two-dozen pages on different types of the disease. On each page, users can access in-depth information about treatment options, prevention, screening, and support. The pages are also sorted according to who’s seeking the information: patients or healthcare professionals.
Patients can learn about the latest in treatments, from chemotherapy to proton therapy to vaccine therapy. The information is presented in a way that non-medical populations can understand, but it is still clearly well-researched and non-biased, with many sections outlining both the pros and cons of certain treatments. Patients can also peruse tips on cancer prevention and find advice on everything from insurance issues to hospice care.
The site also presents blogs and videos on which patients can comment and through which they can interact with other cancer patients.
For medical professionals, OncoLink is just as comprehensive. The site offers free continuing-education modules designed to keep medical personnel fresh on the latest developments in the cancer field. It also features a number of interactive features to help health-care professionals deliver information both accurately and succinctly to their patients.
According to site organizers, nearly half of OncoLink’s users are nurses who are looking to educate themselves so they can serve as a better resource for cancer patients. The Treatment Binder can be particularly helpful in that regard. The feature, also available as an app, is full of hundreds of handout forms tailored to different types of cancers and varying side effects and medications. The materials are a perfect addition to courses and seminars on the topic and can also be given directly to patients.
The O-Pro Portal is another helpful component of the site. Here, healthcare professionals have access to a vast array of educational articles and presentations, patient-teaching tools and even a community forum for oncological professionals. The portal is also offered as an app.
Whether a cancer patient or medical professional, OncoLink offers valuable and empowering education for all users.