Case Reports in Surgery and Invasive Procedures

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Searching Google for patient information on basal cell carcinoma

International Surgery and Ortho Conference
October 25-26, 2017 | Toronto, Canada

Weiguang Ho, Christopher David Jones and Hilal Bahia

Ulster Hospital, UK

Scientific Tracks Abstracts : Case Rep Surg Invasive Proced


Introduction: Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) is the commonest type of skin cancer. Following consultation, patients often read about their condition online prior to biopsy. Google is currently the most popular internet search engine. We evaluated information on BCC available when using Google as a search tool for patient information. Methods: The term ‘Basal Cell Carcinoma’ was searched using Google Chrome in ‘Incognito’ mode, with the cookies preset turned off. The first 5 pages of results were analyzed for information available on symptoms, prevention, diagnosis, staging and treatment; type of organization represented; use of citations and jargon; and whether the site was targeted towards patients or healthcare professionals. Website traffic information was gathered using Similar Web. Results: 49 results returned from 45 unique websites. 36 were from the UK and 13 from USA. The commonest results were resource-, NHS-, and Charity-based websites. A significant proportion was based on media and private healthcare. Most of the links permitted easy access to prevention strategies, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment, without excessive use of jargon. However, information on cancer staging and evidence citation was lacking. We felt that most websites were geared towards patients. The websites received an average of 100.2 million visits globally and 25.2 million visits from the UK in a month. Visits using search engines represented 74.6% of these. Conclusion: Our findings reflected the scale of use of search engines by patients for information on BCC. Google has the potential for disseminating important information on a vast number of conditions. Certain areas with room for improvement were identified.


Weiguang Ho is currently working in the Department of Plastic Surgery at Ulster Hospital, Belfast United Kingdom.

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