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OncoLink's 18th Anniversary: Penn-Developed Online Cancer Resource Redesigned with New Features to Guide Patients and Caregivers

March 27, 2012, Volume 58, No. 27

OncoLink, a free cancer information website developed by experts at the University of Pennsylvania’s Abramson Cancer Center has launched a redesigned website based on the search habits and feedback from patients, caregivers and health care providers who use the site. Enhanced, interactive features provide access to the most up-to-date information on cancers of all kinds, and allows users to develop personalized survivorship plans, and review the latest cancer research more easily.

The redesign comes just in time for the 18th anniversary of the site, which was the Internet’s first cancer information resource. OncoLink’s designers and a team of dedicated nurses and physicians implemented a new navigation system to make it easier for both patients and healthcare providers to rapidly locate the information they’re seeking. Using a new “slide show” feature, any user searching for information—whether they are newly diagnosed with a specific disease, are curious about their cancer risk, are currently receiving treatment, or are a cancer survivor—can select a visual starting point based on their specific needs. Interactive tools available throughout the site help patients search and filter more than 75,000 pages of cancer-related content—a boon to patients and families who may be overwhelmed by the array of potentially unreliable or confusing cancer information on the web.

“The new design and features are based on how users are searching for their information,” said Dr. James Metz, an associate professor and chief of clinical operations in the department of radiation oncology at the Perelman School of Medicine, who serves as editor-in-chief of OncoLink. “We took a close look at statistics and analytics to gauge what users are searching for the most, and how they are finding that information. The redesign puts content front and center. Our goal is to empower patients and healthcare providers to obtain the resources they are looking for instantaneously.”

Recent changes to the site include enhancements to interactive tools for patients, including:
What’s My Risk: A program designed to help users learn about factors that determine their personal risk of many types of cancer and what they can do to decrease that risk.

LIVESTRONG Care Plan: Online tool that provides cancer survivors, their family members or their health care provider with an easy-to-follow roadmap for managing their health as they finish treatment and transition to life as a survivor.

Clinical Trials Matching Service: A search tool that helps patients quickly learn about and evaluate research studies across the nation for which they may be eligible. A telephone matching service is also available.

The new site also offers a comprehensive Healthcare Professional’s Section, which includes:

Nurses Notes: Resources for nurses including patient handouts, newsletters and practice information.

Patient Education Center: Free handouts covering side effects, medications and procedures.

Conferences: Coverage of the annual scientific meetings of the oncology societies, a calendar of global cancer related meetings.

OncoLink University: Teaching guides for students at all levels and a core oncology related course for medical students entitled MD2B.

The site provides patient-friendly content; see www.oncolink.org/

Almanac - March 27, 2012, Volume 58, No. 27