Breastcancer.org is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing the most reliable, complete, and up-to-date information about breast cancer.
Their mission is to help women and their loved ones make sense of the complex medical and personal information about breast health and breast cancer so that they can make the best decisions for their lives. The people behind breastcancer.org bring with them a diverse set of skills and experience, from medical experts, writers, editors, and business development experts, to designers and web producers. A Professional Advisory Board (PAB) reviews all the medical information on the website. The PAB includes over 70 practicing medical professionals from around the world who are leaders in their fields. Impressively, breastcancer.org provides a Spanish translation of most (if not all) of the pages on the website.
Throughout, the website uses plain language in its topic headings, so that even if you haven’t learned the cancer-speak yet, you can still find your way around easily enough.
The website has a lot of information but is very well laid-out and easy to navigate. Let’s take a wander…
The Home page
The body of the Home page includes a ton of information. “Breast Cancer in the News,” brings breaking news about current breast cancer research and there are podcasts you can listen to in which experts discuss the current breast cancer research. “Think Pink, Live Green,” gives you ways of living that can help reduce your risk of breast cancer. Finally, “Breastcancer.org’s Blog” has stories about amazing people, helpful healthy living tips, and an insider’s look at Breastcancer.org.
Along the top of the Home page are five clickable tab names:
- Symptoms & Diagnosis
- Treatment & Side Effects
- Day-to-Day Matters
- Lower Your Risk
- Get Involved
Beneath each tab name is a partial list of topics associated with that tab. For instance, Understanding Breast Cancer, Screening, and Testing, Types of Breast Cancer, More Topics, etc. The topic titles are clickable so you can go directly to that topic if you want to.
To see the full list of sub-topics click on the tab name (“Symptoms & Diagnosis” for instance) or the “More Topics” menu item.
Some big topics, such as “Managing Breast Cancer Fears,” have additional information arranged into sub-topics. Look for the sub-topic titles on the left of the window. These sub-topics make it easier to drill into focused topics rather than facing an intimidatingly long piece of text.
You have two ways to navigate to the topics in the tab. The body of the page has links, and the same links appear on the left of the window. Also on the left side of the window, following the list of topics, are additional links not in the body of the page, including Slideshows, Ask the Expert Topics, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), and Research News. These links do not all appear on each tab. For instance, there is no “Ask the Expert” option on the Treatment and Side Effects tab.
The slideshows take the form of a few slides (fewer than 20) that provide practical tips or useful snippets of information about a given subject. For instance, there’s “10 Important Things to Know About Mammograms” and “9 Steps You Can Take to Eat a More Healthy Diet” and “16 Ways to Reduce the Risk of Lymphedema” and many others.
Ask the Expert
Many of the topics on this website are excellent sources of information, a sort of reference manual. But the site also includes presentations and “Ask-the-Expert” online conferences, in which patients post questions and one or more experts provide answers. Some of the topics are archived from several years ago, so there are lots to choose from. I found the easiest way to locate them was to search for “Ask-the-expert” and then choose from the returned list of titles. They run the gamut from “Managing Chemo Brain,” to “Kids and Mom’s Breast Cancer,” to “Sex, Intimacy, and Breast Cancer.”
Frequently Asked Questions
I guess this feature is dependent on people submitting questions. At the current time, only the Day-to-Day Matters tab has an FAQ section. The section takes the form of a question posed by a reader, with an answer from one of the site’s experts.
The Research News pages identify published research studies. The articles about the studies are written in a nice clear way, and you don’t need an advanced science degree to understand them. (At least, that’s the case for the several that I looked at.)
With a site like breastcancer.org with so many topics of interest and so many links to other topics of interest, you might get lost in the weeds. However, the site has an excellent “breadcrumb” feature just below the tab names along the top of the window. It’s called a “breadcrumb” because it shows the trail you’ve taken to get to your current location. A lot like the breadcrumb trail you might leave for yourself when walking through a forest!
For instance, I searched the entire site for articles about the side effects of Anastrozole, and from the returned list of articles I chose one called “Aromatase Inhibitors.” I didn’t know the location of the article in the overall structure of the website, but I could figure it out by looking at the breadcrumb:
All elements of the breadcrumb are clickable, so you can easily retrace your steps.
More than just drugs…
The website provides information about conventional treatments; it also offers a fairly extensive section on complementary and holistic medicine (in Treatment and Side Effects). The Day to Day Matters tab includes sections on exercise and nutrition. The topics include how to plan a safe exercise program, the types of exercise you should do, how to exercise both during and after treatment, and how to stick with it. The Nutrition section provides information on healthy eating during and after treatment, the impact of food on breast cancer risk, a brief section about dietary supplements, and a decent list of nutrition resources.
Using the Donate button, you can provide financial support to the breastcancer.org team and the work that they do. Presumably, financial support is necessary to the continued running of the site, but breastcancer.org seems to take a low-key approach to donations. It’s a credit to the team that pushing information and resources seems to take precedence over fundraising. The organization scores well with charity evaluator Charity Navigator; it has received a four-star rating for the last six years. (That said, maybe the one negative on this site is the number of advertisements, all by big pharmaceutical companies.)
Another way to get involved is to join the conversation. The Community link (in the header of the website) displays the forum page. Unless you want to post a topic of your own, you can follow conversations without signing in. You can ask questions and respond to the questions of others – there’s a lot of support out there! The forum posts are also available in Spanish.
The scope of articles on this website is impressive. It almost seems as if the authors have tried to figure out every single thing that someone facing a breast cancer diagnosis might want to know. There’s even a page to help you prepare for a natural disaster that might occur during your treatment.
Overall, this site is well worth taking some time to explore, whether for your own sake or in support of a friend or loved one.