Social Media Creates Connectivity in the Role in Cancer Awareness and Support

In the US, March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness and Kidney Cancer Awareness Month. Awareness of cancers is a key element in both saving lives and healthcare costs. For example, it is estimated that for every one dollar spent on colorectal screening, three dollars in treatment costs are saved.

Kidney cancer can be quite difficult to detect as the the most common symptom, blood in the urine, could be caused by other things such as infections or kidney stones. However, there have recently been seven new drugs introduced to treat kidney cancer. This increase in options is a dramatic achievement, especially considering the disease often goes undetected until the tumor, or tumors, have grown.

For both of these cancers as with most others, awareness and early detection are key elements to healthy outcomes. Consequently, many patients, providers, non-profit organizations and pharmaceutical companies are coming together in social media forums.

Another key element is support and connection to others. Studies have shown socially isolated women are 34% more likely to die from breast cancer than their counterparts who have strong support from family and friends. To help address this, many cancer support organizations have established websites with the objective of connecting patients globally.

Using the iTrend social media analytics tools, we took a look at some of the keywords being discussed on social media and the key social media influencers who help create awareness and educate others. First, which words are people using when they discuss cancer? The word cloud below depicts many words one might expect to see, but using the iTrend tool we are able to drill down into each of the words, look at the specific mentions, who is discussing these topics and who and how many are replying to and retweeting  their statements.


Katie Couric’s husband, Jay, died of colon cancer at the age of 42 in 1998. Katie continues to be a tireless advocate for colon cancer screening, early detection and prevention. Katie’s large number of followers allows her messages to be extremely influential, as indicated by the very large circle below. The table to the left of the graphic provides a list of top 10 influencers.


The N-gram analysis shows frequently occurring words and phrases associated with cancer. The graphic below indicates social media users are most often sharing information about personal experiences and beliefs, or are seeking to know more. The most frequently used words include “mom”, “church”, “wish” and “support” in addition to words such as “transplantation” and “therapy”.


Social media continues to play an increasingly important role in users’ lives. It allows for the immediate sharing of new information on clinical advancements and best practices. It also allows for those that may prefer confidentiality to get more information and find support.

iTrend is committed to using social media to improve patient outcomes and welcomes the opportunity to answer any questions you may have about our tools and how they can be used to make the world a healthier place. Learn more about what iTrend is doing at or leave us a comment on this blog.

Big data analytics enthusiast.

Tagged with: , , , , ,
Posted in Analysis, Technology, Tracking Social Events

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: