July 10, 2014
People Increasingly Drawn To YouTube For Skin Cancer Information
Brett Smith for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
While YouTube might be a popular destination for viral videos and sports highlight reels, it's also useful for raising awareness of skin cancer and prevention techniques, according to a news report in the Dermatology Online Journal.
“No matter what field you’re in, social media is the future of how we communicate around the world,” said study author Chante Karimkhani, a doctoral candidate at the University of Colorado’s Cancer Center.
The researchers investigated YouTube search terms related to dermatology such as “sun protection, skin cancer, skin cancer awareness, and skin conditions.” Results included 100 videos having a collective 47 million views. The video clips were shared more than 100,000 times and drove over 6,300 subscriptions to distinct YouTube channels.
For instance, of the videos for “skin cancer,” 25 percent were academic and a different 25 percent were what the scientists described as “complementary and alternative medicine videos.” Overall, just 35 percent of videos across all dermatology search terms we uploaded by or included a biomedical expert.
The CU researchers said these results indicate a new chance to spread research straight to the public.
“It used to be that researchers and journals depended on independent media to interpret their findings for the public. It could be a little like a game of telephone,” Karimkhani said. “Now through social media, journals can have their own presence – their own mouthpiece directly to the public that may include patients or health care providers or even other researchers.”
The research pointed to the tanning industry’s presence on YouTube and suggested that viewers should be interested in dermatology issues as well.
The scientists said that as more academic institutions, scientists and journals acknowledge the promise and take on the challenge of social media, data straight from these reputable and well-meaning sources could possibly modify the popular conversation.
The need for greater education was on full display last month when dermatologists conducted more than 710 skin cancer screenings at the Aspen Ideas Festival (AIF) and found 190 precancerous lesions, 80 atypical moles and 89 potential non-melanoma skin cancers.
Mount Sinai Health System in New York City, which sent the dermatologists, said the festival made for the ideal screening location, given its given high altitude, thinner atmosphere, and higher levels of UV radiation.
“Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the world, but also one of the most preventable and treatable forms," said Dr. Mark Lebwohl, chairman of the department of dermatology in the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “When caught early the cure rate is nearly 100 percent. In addition, our department is working on innovations that we hope will identify skin cancers earlier and treat them more effectively.”
“A lot of people said they haven't been screened in years, which was surprising because some had a family history of melanoma,” said Dr. Rita Linker, who participated in the screenings and found one potential melanoma. “I was also surprised about the amount of sun damage among young people.”