Macmillan Cancer Support appoints digital nurse to combat 'fake news'

The charity has hired Ellen McPake to deal with questions on its social media platforms and the online community and counter 'fake news' about the condition

Ellen McPake
Ellen McPake

Macmillan Cancer Support has appointed a new digital nurse in a bid to tackle "fake news" about cancer treatment and diagnosis.

The charity said today that it had hired Ellen McPake to deal solely with questions on Macmillan’s social media platforms and its online community.

The charity said it was concerned that patients were turning to unverified sources of information online that could leave them at risk of putting their faith in bogus cures.

It said one internet search brought up a website that said chemotherapy was a bigger killer than cancer itself, and another claimed that baking soda could cure breast cancer.

The charity said the internet was a vital tool for cancer patients to find information about their diagnosis, treatment options and support.

But it said it was important that people had access to trusted information online, using websites that were accurate and reputable rather than those with what it called "incorrect or dangerous information".

Professor Jane Maher, joint chief medical officer at Macmillan Cancer Support, said it was natural that people wanted to search online for more information when given a cancer diagnosis.

"But with countless unverified statistics, fake news and horror stories on the internet, ending up on the wrong website can be really worrying," she said. "This can leave people pinning their hopes on a dangerous bogus cure or underestimating the benefit of routine treatments."

McPake said: "As more and more people seek information about their cancer online, we want them to know that charities such as Macmillan are able to offer reliable health advice.

"In my new role, I’m there to make sure people affected by cancer have a real person they can turn to online for information about their symptoms, cancer diagnosis and treatment."

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