January 15, 2013

Free Cancer Research Tool: Use It!

 

In preparation for appointments with my doctors, I search Pubmed.gov, a free online database of nearly every medical journal and article in print.  I read articles related to my cancer, print them out, and share them with my docs to review new options for my care or confirm we are on the right track.  As a young adult cancer patient, I have been doing this for nearly a decade.

I enter a search term into pubmed.gov. (Here are some general examples of search terms: ‘tamoxifen resistance’ or ‘radioactive iodine uptake’ or ‘testicular protheses’.) Next I click on the title of an article that sounds like a good match.  Then I read an abstract, a one paragraph summary of the article, to see if the full article will be of use to me.

Sometimes a link is provided to “free full text”.  But the biggest stumbling block is when the “full text” link leads me to a page where I must purchase an expensive copy of the article from the publisher of the medical journal.  $30 for an article, that may or may not be useful, is not in the financial budget of most young adult cancer patients I know.

Luckily, I recently found Loansome Doc.  It is a system developed by the National Library of Medicine.  It connects you to a health science library in your region through which you can order online the full text for free.

The process of signing up and getting an article is a bit confusing.  Set aside a half-hour to become familiar with Loansome Doc:  Read the FAQ about Loansome Doc.  Click through the maze of links.  If you need extra assistance in finding a regional library to connect with, call 1-800-338-7657, Monday – Friday 8:30 AM – 5:30 PM. Then ask the librarian in your region to help you with the process. It is a bit of a hassle, but aren’t the potential pay offs worth it?  I think so.  Being an educated patient can increase the quality of your life and sometimes even save your life.

For more tips on how to research your cancer and treatment options, check out Everything Changes: The Insider’s Guide to Cancer in Your 20s and 30s.

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