There are thousands of researchers testing and developing new cancer treatments and treatments for virtually all other illnesses all the time. Blockbuster treatment developments are sometimes picked up by the mass media, but most other developments, while important, are incremental or only applicable to a few people suffering from a specific serious illness. Therefore, they don’t make it to our daily newspapers or TV screens.
If a radical new cure for breast cancer, colon cancer, or emphysema were announced today, it would be on the evening news tonight and on the front page of most daily newspapers tomorrow. But most of the time, developments in thetreatment of cancer come in incremental steps, not single major breakthroughs. Those incremental steps can make an enormous difference to the life of someone suffering from a serious illness. A new drug shown to be, say, 20% more effective than the standard treatment for colon cancer with fewer side effects is a very important development for a person with colon cancer, though it may not make the evening news.
Important Developments to Only a Few
Even a very major breakthrough for a less common illness will not be as newsworthy as the latest celebrity escapade or political scandal. If you suffer from a relatively rare illness, you will not be kept up to date on important, or even potentially life-saving developments by the mass media. Not only would such a development not have mass interest, but it would likely be technical in nature and therefore deemed not interesting enough to take up valuable airtime.
Finding Information on Treatment Developments
While few less-than blockbuster treatment developments make it to the mass media, they are reported in several thousand technical medical and scientific journals throughout the world. Through government organizations like the National Library of Medicine, these reports are analyzed, coded, and made available through government databases.
The main government database, called PubMed, is available online. However, PubMed (aka Medline) was designed for researchers and medical librarians. Searching is not intuitive. PubMed is a very extensive database of the world’s latest, as well as historic, medical information. It has remarkably powerful tools for honing in on very specific types of information like the newest treatments for a particular illness. It even allows a user to do pinpoint limiting. For example, if I wanted to search for treatment articles on bladder cancer published in the past six months, doing so would be quite easy. If I wanted to restrict the search only to articles regarding treatment of that same illness but limit it to surgical procedures, no problem. If I wanted to limit further to articles that specifically addressed treatment of that illness but only designed for those who have bladder cancer and a history of diabetes (or emphysema, or hypertension, or any other condition), still no problem.
However, the PubMed database is not user-friendly. It was designed to be used exclusively by those trained in its controlled vocabulary and syntax structures long before the Internet or personal computers existed. Someone trained in using PubMed could readily do the searching I described above. However, it would be very difficult for someone unfamiliar with the structure of this database, its controlled vocabulary, and the tools available to competently search it and find what they are looking for with accuracy and completeness.
The PubMed databases employ medical professionals like biologists, physicians, and nurses to analyze and categorize every article included to make sure it is tagged properly for those searching the databases. An article can be categorized as applicable to dozens of searchable criteria, based not on popularity or word count, but on professional judgment.*
We are trained and very experienced in using PubMed and several other medical and scientific databases. We use these databases specifically to find new and important treatment information for our clients. Learn more about our treatment search services.
* The very latest information regarding our clients’ specific illnesses, for which we automatically search daily, is in a database called PreMedline. Articles are placed in PreMedline while they are awaiting full indexing by medical professionals. Our Treatment Weekly Update (TWU) software emulates this indexing. Learn more about our daily searches for new treatment information via PreMedline.