Cancer Patients Use Social Media, Online Communities, to Support Each Other

Cancer Connect


Charles Weaver, MD

chweaver@cancerconsultants.com208-727-6880August 16, 2011

August 16, 2011 Sun Valley, Idaho A recent survey of 102 members of the online community,, suggests that cancer patients participate in social media mainly to gain and share support with others in the same situation and to gather information about their cancer.

As the growth in social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter skyrockets, questions are raised about the value of these communities to people with life-threatening and serious illnesses. OMNI Health Media, publisher of the online community CancerConnect, recently conducted market research with a sample of the 6000 individuals currently engaged in the CancerConnect social network in order to better understand how patients are using social media and whether it is meeting their needs.

The most important reason that individuals with cancer  participate in CancerConnect is to both gain and give support and gain access to new information about their cancer, explains CEO and publisher Charles Weaver, MD.

Seventy-nine percent (79%) of respondents rated it important to very important to find other patients with a similar diagnosis. Providing and receiving support was of almost equal importance with eighty-five percent (85%) and seventy-five percent (75%), respectively, reporting that it was important to give support as well as to get support from others. 

User engagement is one of the most important aspects of keeping an online community vibrant and exciting, according to Alana Brody, VP of social media at CancerConnect. Daily update emails, educational newsletters, and Live Web-Chats with The Experts are all ways that we provide our members with the relevant insights into their disease that they are looking for.

A key to user engagement is having trained moderators participate in the community. CancerConnect members agree with this; sixty-seven percent (67%) of participants responded that it is important to very important to have trained moderators in the community. In the CancerConnect social network, a community moderator leads each of the 60-plus groups. These moderators are cancer survivors, professional healthcare providers, or members of patient advocacy organizations. Moderators welcome all new members to the community and act as guides to orient them to the discussions taking place, while ensuring only appropriate content is posted.

It is also very important for patients to find information on cancer when they visit a social network. Overall seventy-five percent (75%) said finding information on cancer was important, and eighty-six percent (86%) hoped to find educational programming on their specific type of cancer.  In addition, ninety-eight percent (98%) of respondents rated having personalized news feeds about their cancer as the single most useful feature of the CancerConnect Community.

About Cancer Connect

CancerConnect is a fully functional online community and social network that encourages people with cancer and those who care for them to share information, inspiration, hope, and support.  CancerConnect combines best-of-class content and news with this online community to enable cancer patients and their caregivers to communicate with each other in a confidential and secure environment. 

Owned by OMNI Health Media, CancerConnect has been a leader in providing cancer patients and their families with timely accurate information since 1995. Visitors to CancerConnect have access to comprehensive, current information on all aspects of the management of cancer and the added value of connecting with other patients who share their specific disease, such as breast, colon, prostate, and lung cancer. Disease-specific groups as well as groups focused on caregiving, health and wellness, and nutrition all exist to provide support for anyone affected by a diagnosis of cancer. Members of CancerConnect can access information, ask questions, share experiences, and connect with others who share their issuesall at a single destination. They can also participate in communities with broader concerns like nutrition and spirituality.

CancerConnect is used by hospitals and cancer clinics to enhance their websites and allow cancer patients to be part of an online community without leaving the providers website. OMNI Health Media manages the CancerConnect communities for Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, The Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, and many other leading cancer centers and private clinics. Moreover through partnerships with the National Patient Advocate Foundation, The Prostate Cancer Research Institute, The Lymphoma Research Foundation and other advocacy organizations, CancerConnect provides a best of class fully moderated social media experience.

To learn more about CancerConnect please contact Alana Brody, at or 609-230-3997 or CH Weaver at


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