The Social Oncology Report 2013


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A report analyzing trends in online communications about cancer. Features analysis from the proprietary MDigitalLife physician database.

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The Social Oncology Report 2013

  1. 1. THE SOCIALONCOLOGYPROJECTBrian Reid withAshlyn Abell | Mark Bennett | Greg Matthews | Kayla RodriguezMAY 2013
  2. 2. Digital communication tools havebecome increasingly important inoncology, yet little effort has been putinto quantifying the type and volumeof online conversions. The MDigitalLifeSocial Oncology Project project seeksto put those discussions in context.
  3. 3. OVERVIEWThe SocialOncology Project
  4. 4. “Information overload” is nearly a cliché in the age of Google, but for oncologists, the data delugeis especially acute, and it goes far beyond an overflowing inbox. In 1999, researchers publishedmore than 6,800 PubMed-indexed papers on oncology. That number topped 10,000 by 2002.Eight years later, it had doubled. And in 2012, 23,459 oncology papers appeared—that’s a rate of64 manuscripts a day, every day.There’s no end in sight. The volume of information in the medical literature continues to grow atabout 10 percent a year.Fortunately, there is no need for any single individual to digest 24,000 journal articles. As the fieldhas grown, it has also become more specialized. Cancer is no longer viewed as a single disease, oreven a single collection of diseases defined by the location of the cancerous cells—breast cancer,prostate cancer, lung cancer, leukemia—but as an ever-more diverse set of maladies, differentiatedby a growing set of biomarkers.3 THE SOCIAL ONCOLOGY PROJECT: OverviewSource: PubMed
  5. 5. The evolution of this information environment, however, has createdsome challenges, most notably in how media distills the wealth ofknowledge being created each day. The magazines and newspapersare ill equipped to deal with the increasing amount of informationbecause they are constrained by shrinking staffs and moribundcirculation and viewership numbers. And the move to increasingspecialization also presents the difficulty of defining “big news” whenthe issues of import to each community of oncologists (and patients)are different.A solution is emerging. The response to the related trends ofinformation overload and specialization has been a flowering ofonline information-sharing, allowing groups of like-minded doctorsto coalesce, joined by a host of other stakeholders, from patients toadvocates to caregivers to industry. And while these communitiesare still nascent, their rapid growth speaks to an entirely new modelof scientific exchange.The tools that are being used to build these communities are varied,ranging from social networks such as Twitter and Facebook todedicated online forums to blogs. Each of these mediums allows adifferent kind of communication and a different kind of community.This report will detail the way that this model is taking shape,examining how the trend of increasing use of social channels haspercolated through the industry. Particular interest will be given toboth where news is “created”—by scientific exchange or by thenews media—as well as how that information is distributed todifferent audiences.4 THE SOCIAL ONCOLOGY PROJECT: Overview13.6 MillionTweets1.7 millionNews Stories285,000Blog PostsBreakdown ofconversationlocations overthe past year640,000Forum Posts
  6. 6. UBIQUITUOUS CONVERSATIONSAt the broadest level, conversations about oncology are ubiquitous. Across four of the primary digitalchannels—news, blogs, forums and Twitter, there were some 16.3 million mentions in the UnitedStates in the past year, including more than 13 million tweets, 1.7 million news stories and 285,000blog posts.And though those numbers showed some variation, talk of cancer, like the disease itself, was aconstant. That’s not to say that there were not spikes in conversation; mentions of breast cancershot up more than 10-fold on the first day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month; leukemia made asimilar-sized jump the day that Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano announced that he hadbeen diagnosed with leukemia. And cervical cancer mentions skyrocketed June 15, when Moeshastar Yvette Wilson died of cervical cancer. While the march of research continues apace, it’sclear that the fodder for online discussion remains driven by the experiences of people, notdata. Social media in cancer is firmly rooted in the social.Not all cancer types tend to have the same sort of dialogue, nor does the volume of conversationfollow the impact of disease. Last year, lung cancer was—by a large margin—the largest cancerkiller in the United States. But conversations about lung cancer lagged behind those of breast andblood cancer. Breast cancer, on the other hand, which has seen decades-long awareness-buildingcampaigns, generates more online discussions than the other top four causes of death combined, adiscrepancy driven by high conversation volumes on Twitter and in forums. (Breast cancer was themost prevalent cancer type for news and blog posting as well, though the gap between breast andother cancer types was smaller.)5 THE SOCIAL ONCOLOGY PROJECT: Overview1,600,000LUNG COLON BREAST PROSTATE LYMPHOMA180,0001,400,000 160,0001,200,000140,0001,000,000120,000800,000100,000600,00080,000400,00060,000200,00040,00020,0000 0DEATHS CONVERSATION VOLUME
  7. 7. This report also seeks to look beyond aggregate numbers to examine the way that differentcommunities are using the tools now available, from professionals to advocates to patients. To fullyexplore the data, we examined several different aspects of online oncology discussion, includingsocial conversations during the American Society for Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting in June;Twitter traffic captured in the MDigitalLife database of verified, practicing physicians; advocacy useof tools such as Facebook; and several other metrics.In total, the data show that, even if not mainstream, the sharing of information online by variedoncology communities is having a real, positive and meaningful impact on the way that informationis spread.Looking broadly at cancer conversations online, there are four broad conclusions that stemfrom the data:1. The volume of conversation about “cancer” outstrips the sum total of discussionsabout specific types of cancer. Though researchers are moving toward a modelin which “cancer” is a less and less useful catch-all term, much of the dialogueonline still looks at the disease as a single, monolithic health concern. As we beginto look at online data in a longitudinal way, we will pay special attention to whetherwe see fragmentation of conversations around cancer.2. Among cancer types, breast cancer remains the most-discussed cancer typewith a volume of conversation larger than lung, colon, prostate and blood cancerscombined. This reflects heavy interest from the patient community; an analysis ofconversations by doctors shows that breast cancer, while a high-volume topic,does not outstrip discussions of other cancer types.3. Awareness months, while they receive little mention in news sources, nonethelessare rallying points online, driving measurable increases in online dialogue in mostcancer types.4. Celebrities, more than research or clinical news, tend to create conversationsonline. Like awareness months, nearly every major cancer type has seen a spikein dialogue based on a high-profile individual’s experience with cancer.6 THE SOCIAL ONCOLOGY PROJECT: Overview
  8. 8. The charts below put some of these conclusions in context, showing not only the baselineconversation volume, but also the specific events that generated extraordinary levels of online traffic.7 THE SOCIAL ONCOLOGY PROJECT: OverviewMay 2012 June 2012 July 2012 Aug. 2012 Sept. 2012 Oct. 2012 Nov. 2012 Dec. 2012 Jan. 2013 Feb. 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013Mentions of Lung Cancer05001000150020002500LungCancerAwarenessMonthStudy onlung cancerand marijuana useSource: W2O/Sysomos020000400006000080000100000May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 Aug. 2012 Sept. 2012 Oct. 2012 Nov. 2012 Dec. 2012 Jan. 2013 Feb. 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013Source: W2O/SysomosOverall Mentions of CancerMay 2012 June 2012 July 2012 Aug. 2012 Sept. 2012 Oct. 2012 Nov. 2012 Dec. 2012 Jan. 2013 Feb. 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013Mentions of Prostate Cancer0500100020003000Prostate-relatednews about JerryBrown and IanMcKellanASCO-relatedconversationsSource: W2O/Sysomos
  9. 9. 8 THE SOCIAL ONCOLOGY PROJECT: OverviewMay 2012 June 2012 July 2012 Aug. 2012 Sept. 2012 Oct. 2012 Nov. 2012 Dec. 2012 Jan. 2013 Feb. 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013Mentions of Breast Cancer0100003000050000BreastCancerAwarenessMonthAngelina Jolieannouncesdouble mastectomySource: W2O/SysomosMay 2012 June 2012 July 2012 Aug. 2012 Sept. 2012 Oct. 2012 Nov. 2012 Dec. 2012 Jan. 2013 Feb. 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013Mentions of Colon Cancer0500100015002000ColonCancerAwarenessMonthStudy onaspirin ascolon cancertreatmentSource: W2O/SysomosMay 2012 June 2012 July 2012 Aug. 2012 Sept. 2012 Oct. 2012 Nov. 2012 Dec. 2012 Jan. 2013 Feb. 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013Mentions of Blood Cancer0200040006000800010000Football coachChuck Paganoannounces he hasleukemiaManti Teo story,involving fictiuousgirlfriendsleukemia death,breaksSource: W2O/Sysomos
  10. 10. ASCOThe SocialOncology Project
  11. 11. 10 THE SOCIAL ONCOLOGY PROJECT: ASCOEach year, the greatest concentration of news about canceroccurs at the annual meeting of the American Society of ClinicalOncology (ASCO). Last year, the confab, held in Chicago,generated more tweets than any other major medical meeting.This isn’t a surprise. The meeting attracts 25,000 oncologyprofessionals from around the world, who immerse themselvesin some of the 4,000 different pieces of research presented overthe course of the meeting. Adding to the volume is an influx ofadvocates, patients, journalists, investment professionals andothers, all eager to hear the latest news.Examining ASCO social activity is particularly appealing forthree reasons. First, much of the discussion at ASCO takesplace publicly on Twitter, making it easy to collect and analyze.Secondly, the use of the conference’s hashtag (#ASCO12) intweets further improves analysis. By appending “#ASCO12” totweets, participants in the online dialogue can signal, with greatprecision, that they are communicating about the meeting.Finally, Twitter is a vehicle that encourages link-sharing, allowinganalysis not only of the content of the individual, 140-charactermissives, but also providing insight into other sources of onlineinformation that are shared among attendees.Overall, volume at ASCO is related largely to news occurring atthe meeting; last year, two peaks occurred. The first surroundedthe mid-May release of research summaries, or abstracts,from the meeting. This release was accompanied by a pressteleconference with the conference organizers and led to aflurry of news coverage—and Twitter activity.But the largest spike occurred on the first day of the conference,June 2, when Twitter volume topped 1,500. On June 3 and 4,more than 1,400 tweets were issued. By June 5, the final day ofASCO, the volume of tweets had dropped by half.Five MostRetweetedTweets,ASCO12
  12. 12. In total, 7,930 tweets tagged with #ASCO12 were published.Another 3,600 retweets of #ASCO12 content were recorded.And 4,100 links were shared.Looking at the links shared, however, gives a slightly differentsense of the meeting. While no URL was included more oftenthan the abstracts page, reflecting the high number of tweeterssharing the basic scientific information being presented, thesecond-most-common link shared was one to a social event…featuring tweeting ASCO attendees.Of note, only two of the most-tweeted links came from whatwould be thought of as “traditional” news outlets: one fromThe New York Times and one from Forbes. An article pennedby a medical center’s communication staff (the Mayo Clinic)outranked both Forbes and The Times.The lack of mainstream media among the top-tweeted linksdemonstratesthefundamentalrealityofthenewcommunicationsparadigm: we can and should expect that the increasing volumeof information, combined with an emphasis on specialization,means that there will be more smaller communities talking atlower volume about more narrow topics.As a consequence, the individuals that generated the mostengagement at the meeting tended to be those speaking aboutbroader topics, such as business news or the use of socialmedia itself, which cuts across areas of sub-specialization.The most-mentioned user at the meeting was Adam Feuerstein(@adamfeuerstein), a reporter with TheStreet. He was followedby Robert Miller (@RSM2800), Mike Thompson (@mtmdphd)and Steven Tucker (@drsteventucker), all of whom are wellregarded for their interest in the way that digital channels canbe used in the context of oncology.11 THE SOCIAL ONCOLOGY PROJECT: ASCOTop 10Tweeted Links,#ASCO121. 2013 ASCO ConferenceAbstracts ( The “Unofficial” ASCO 2012Tweetup ( Article: Ginseng FightsFatigue in Cancer Patients,Mayo Clinic-Led StudyFinds ( Alex’s Lemonade StandFoundation Donation Page( Cancer Progress Home Page( Post: Key ProstateCancer Sessions, PSA TestControversy( Post: Social Media CanBe a Powerful Tool forPhysician Education, PatientEngagement ( Article: Drug Helps DefenseSystem Fight Cancer( Article: ASCO ‘12 AbstractDump: Cancer Stocks inFocus ( Article: New Cancer DataShine Spotlight On TheSecret Committees ThatMake Medicine’s ToughestDecisions (
  13. 13. Of the 15 most engaging individuals tweeting at ASCO12, seven were physicians; two were patients;two, including Feuerstein, were journalists; two were consultants; one was a biotech executive; andone was an advocate.ASCO is not a virtual meeting, despite longstanding and impressive efforts by the conferenceorganizers to make information available digitally before and after the event. As such, it’s an importantopportunity for online communities to interact in real life.The “unofficial” meeting has spawned two events that are explicitly designed to draw virtualgroupstogether:antweetup,heldtheeveningbeforetheconferencebegins,andanASCO-sponsoredtweetup at the event itself. Both of those events were successes; the more social “unofficial” eventattracted nearly 50 individuals, the ASCO-sponsored event included informal remarks from threeprofessionals who had studied the impact of digital media on physicians, clinical trials and continuingeducation.The two events are being repeated at ASCO13. The “unofficial” tweetup isagain being held on Friday night, while the ASCO-sponsored event will beheld at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday.12 THE SOCIAL ONCOLOGY PROJECT: ASCO
  14. 14. USE BYDOCTORSThe SocialOncology Project
  15. 15. Physicians are among the most important communities to consider when assessing the impact ofsocial media on oncology. To best understand the nature of those conversations, we isolated andanalyzed social media use solely by physicians using an internally developed tool called MDigitalLife.MDigitalLife includes a database of professionals who tweet, matching each Twitter handle to aNational Provider Identification Number, or NPIN. MDigitalLife now tracks more than 3,000 verifiedphysicians and holds more than 2.5 million in its database.Among that cohort, discussion of oncology is growing far faster than it is in the general public.Mentions of “cancer” more than doubled in the past year, with increases in every type of cancermonitored. While the overall conversation volume was modest—some 27,000 tweets out of themillions of total tweets about cancer—it reflects the growing use and acceptance of Twitter amonga select group of opinion leaders.Drilling further into the content of the tweets, it appears that doctors are using this medium as away to communicate largely with patients; depending on the specific cancer topic, between 78and 92 percent of tweets were aimed at a general audience. Among the cancer types analyzed,those tweeting about lung cancer were the most likely to be communicating with fellow health careprofessionals; those discussing skin cancer were least likely to be aimed at professionals.14 THE SOCIAL ONCOLOGY PROJECT: Use by Doctors0 2,000 4,000 6,000 8,000 10,000 12,000DIABETESHEART DISEASEADD/ADHDAIDS/HIVBREAST CANCERPROSTATE CANCERSKIN CANCERSTROKEFLUTop Twitter Topics Among DoctorsMentionsofCancerSource: MDigital Life database of physician tweetsBreast CancerAwenessMonthMentions of CancerSource:MDigitalLifedatabaseofphysiciBreastCancerAwenessMonthSource: MDigitalLife database of physician tweets
  16. 16. The topics of those tweets give a hint at the aim as well. Prevention and awareness made up amajority of tweets in most areas, but the proportion of other topics varied. In lung cancer, 32 percentof tweets were about treatment and 17 percent were about diagnostics or were far more likely todiscuss diagnostics (47 percent) than treatment (6 percent).Of note, these tweets were not necessarily from oncologists, which make up only a small proportionof tweeting doctors, which may explain why, in the aggregate, so much of the content is directed atgeneral public awareness.Still, cancer issues dominate the list of most-mentioned topics among the more than 2 milliontweets that have been indexed in the database. Skin cancer, prostate cancer and breast cancer,respectively, make up the fourth-, fifth- and sixth-most common diseases and conditions discussedby doctors; only diabetes, flu and stroke have been mentioned more.In addition to examining cancer conversations in the overall MDigitalLife dataset, we also soughtto compare the activity on Twitter by oncologists to a sampling of their peers in other specialties.Because MDigitalLife is linked to the NPIN, information about specialties can be easily obtained.15 THE SOCIAL ONCOLOGY PROJECT: Use by DoctorsFAMILYMEDICINEPSYCHIATRY DERMATOLOGY CARDIOLOGY ONCOLOGY14%12%10%8%6%4%2%0Specialist Types as a Percentage of theMDigitalLife DatabaseBlood Bone Breast Colon Gynecological Lung Prostate Skin050100150200250300350Prevention/AwarenessDiagnosis/DetectionTreatmentResearchConversationTopicsCancer TypeSource: MDigital Life database of physician tweetsSource: MDigitalLife database of physician tweetsResearchTreatmentDiagnosis/DetectionPrevention/Awareness
  17. 17. Though the number of different physician types associated with the NPIN is extensive, we optedto compare oncologists with a range of other professionals, looking at those in family medicine,psychiatry, dermatology and cardiology.Of the more than 2,500 doctors now captured by the MDigitalLife database, only 2.6 percentare oncologists. Cardiologists make up 3.5 percent of the dataset, dermatologists 3.7 percent,psychiatrists 4.3 percent and family medicine practitioners 12.1 percent.Though oncologists lag behind their peers in one respect, those that are tweeting are tweeting morethan average: of the five specialties examined, only oncologists tweet more than twice a day—2.6times, on average. Psychiatrists clock in at 1.9 tweets a day, followed by cardiologists (1.8 tweets/day), family medicine physicians (1.7 tweets/day) and dermatologists (0.7 tweets/day).Averages can obscure the impact of outliers, however, and oncology has several thought leaderswho frequently engage their peers and the community in larger conversations. On the topic of cancer,no physician was more engaging that Memorial Sloan-Kettering’s Anas Younes, who generated961 responses from other participants in the past year. Mike Thomson prompted 797 interactions,attracting particular attention around ASCO. Robert Miller, with 573 interactions, also drove a largevolume of conversations.16 THE SOCIAL ONCOLOGY PROJECT: Use by DoctorsSpecialty Average Tweets/DayCardiology 1.82Dermatology 0.72Family Medicine 1.68Oncology 2.60Psychiatry 1.94
  18. 18. Still, the ultimate metric by which doctors and researchers judge the state of the science in any areais not Twitter. It is the peer-reviewed research process. And in that regard, social media is movingahead. Last July, the Journal of Oncology Practice published an eight-page article by Dizon et. althat examined best practices for the use of social media by oncology professionals and listed theFacebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social properties operated by 44 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers.The paper concluded with a clear call to action:“Social media hold the promises for a more interactive educational experienceand enhanced opportunities to influence care delivery as well as expanding andspeeding the dissemination of information both inside and outside the oncologycommunity. Given the popularity and almost universal appeal of social media weencourage oncology providers and institutions to learn more and engage in thisongoing evolution.”17 THE SOCIAL ONCOLOGY PROJECT: Use by Doctors
  19. 19. USE BYPATIENTS ADVOCATESThe SocialOncology Project
  20. 20. Doctors are not the only group that has found digitalcommunication to be useful. A number of advocacy groups havealso taken to social channels to inform, organize and fundraise.While information on the exact nature of this communicationtends to be anecdotal, there is mounting evidence that digitaladvocacy, too, is moving into the mainstream. Several cancer-related advocacy groups have more than a million “likes” onFacebook, including Breast Cancer Awareness (3.8 million),The Breast Cancer Site (3.7 million), Livestrong Foundation (1.7million) and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (1.2 million).And the social presence of advocacy groups is largelyuntethered to traditional metrics such as private support. Thetwo most popular groups on Facebook are both associated withGreater Good, an umbrella organization that doesn’t make theForbes 100 list of most-donated-to charities. And while thoseorganizations that do make the Forbes list have a presence onFacebook, donations are not a proxy for social engagement.The American Cancer Society, which brought in more than $800million in private support, has about 400,000 likes. The Leukemia Lymphoma Society raised more than a quarter-billion dollarslast year but has only 151,000 likes.And while those numbers reflect impressive and meaningfulengagement that might not have been possible even a decadeago, they still lag behind some newer advocacy organizations,such as Stand Up to Cancer (1 million likes).But looking at a single page’s “likes” alone misses a crucialpiece of context: new technology makes it easier for largeorganizations to empower smaller groups in the organization(or for smaller groups to empower themselves). In addition totheir main Komen for the Cure page with over 600,000 likes,Facebook lists more than 1,000 “for the cure” events, manyof them done by affiliates of Susan G. Komen for the Cure oreven individuals that support the organization. While this maychallenge an organization’s ability to push a singular message,it allows broader participation which can have both positive andnegative outcomes.19 THE SOCIAL ONCOLOGY PROJECT: Use by Patients and AdvocatesProfessionalOrganizationsUse of social media has beenstandard with more than justcharitable or patient-focusedgroups. The American Societyof Clinical Oncology hasalso pushed its members tobecome more digitally savvy,suggesting “Ten Tips for theUse of Social Media”:1. Get involved.2. Engage often.3. Always identify yourself.4. Protect patientconfidentiality and privacy.5. Contextualize youractivities.6. Avoid impropriety.7. Give credit where creditis due.8. Professionalism is critical.9. Separate the personal.10. Be aware of yourinstitutional guidelines onsocial media.
  21. 21. Patients, too, have used the power of the Internet in novel waysto expand the ability to teach, learn and connect. These successstories cannot be measured by traditional monitoring tools, butthe anecdotes that underscore them point to the power of themedium.One such story is the #BCSM movement, which began in2011 as a “tweetchat”—a virtual gathering of Twitter users ata particular time, all using the same hashtag to keep track ofthe conversation. Founded by two survivors, Jody Schoger andAlicia Staley, the weekly gatherings have attracted hundreds.Deanna Attai, a breast surgeon who joined the second #BCSMchat and has become one of the driving forces behind it, toldUSA Today that the digital support provided by #BCSM seemsto offer a benefit that goes beyond the age-old in-person supportgroups. In those sessions, Attai told the paper: “one or twopatients sort of take over, and it turns into a bitch session. That’snot what you see with #BCSM. ... We have a common goal—that’s to educate, empower and support, and all that participateseem to embrace that.”Social media has enabled other types of social advocacy as well.Jennifer Windrum, a lung cancer advocate, used a crowdfundingplatform called to raise $35,000 to beginproduction on a line of sock monkeys to be given away to cancerpatients, with additional proceeds committed to research anddevelopment.Pushed largely via a Facebook effort, Sock Monkeys AgainstCancer, or SMAC!, attracted 400 backers in a month, allowingJennifer—a single advocate unaffiliated with any majororganization—the ability to create a community and a platformwith minimal resources.20 THE SOCIAL ONCOLOGY PROJECT: Use by Patients and AdvocatesMost Active#BCSMParticipantsMay 15, 2012 toMay 15, 2013Most Active #BCSMParticipantsMay 15, 2012 to May 15, 2013• @jodyms (5356)• @stales (4561)• @chemobrainfog (3670)• @DrAttai (3414)• @itsthebunk (2489)• @a4breastcancer (2010)• @regrounding (1843)• @ABHuret (1795)• @Bethlgainer (1261)• @talkabouthealth (1198)
  22. 22. The SocialOncology ProjectMEDICATIONS
  23. 23. The number of topics discussed within the millions of cancer conversations online each year isnearly countless, but focusing on a few different topics gives some additional insights into the overalldigital space.We examined the mentions of the 10 best-selling medications used to treat cancer in 2012, lookingat what drugs were being discussed, where they were being discussed and comparing sales toonline conversations.The analysis found that, in general, volume of online conversations tracked with overall sales; assales went up, so did conversations. However, the exceptions to this trend are worthy of note.Two medications examined appeared to have fewer conversations than would have been expectedbased on sales alone: Eloxatin and Rituxan, while two had higher-than-expected conversationvolumes: Herceptin and Avastin.22 THE SOCIAL ONCOLOGY PROJECT: MedicationsTARCEVA XELODASALES (IN MILLIONS) MENTIONSVELCADE ERBITUX ALIMTA ELOXATIN GLEEVEC HERCEPTIN AVASTIN RITUXAN4,00025,0003,00020,0002,00015,0001,00010,0005,0000 00 5,000 10,000 15,000Volume of Mentions (News)TARCEVAXELODAVELCADEERBITUXALIMTAELOXATINGLEEVECHERCEPTINAVASTINRITUXAN
  24. 24. The reason that any one medication may be mentioned more or less often is influenced by a numberof factors, from overall prescriptions (which, because of pricing differences between drugs, isn’tnecessary correlated with sales) to differences in news flow. Still, it’s unlikely to be coincidental thatbreast cancer drugs generated higher-than-average buzz, given the high volume of general breastcancer conversations.On the other end of the scale, no drug received less attention online than Eloxatin, a compoundused to treat colon cancer. Again, the lack of discussion around a colon cancer drug matches thelow level of conversation around colon cancer in general, which generated less online chatter thanany of the other top five cancer killers.23 THE SOCIAL ONCOLOGY PROJECT: Medications0 1,000 2,000 3,000 4,000 5,000Volume of Mentions (Forums)TARCEVAXELODAVELCADEERBITUXALIMTAELOXATINGLEEVECHERCEPTINAVASTINRITUXAN0 2,000 4,000 6,000 8,000Volume of Mentions (Blogs)TARCEVAXELODAVELCADEERBITUXALIMTAELOXATINGLEEVECHERCEPTINAVASTINRITUXAN
  25. 25. Rituxan is a special case; while conversation volume was high (only Avastin and Herceptin generatedmore online hits), it was not as high as may have been suggested by sales. This could the resultof the unique status of Rituxan among the top 10 oncology medications. Rituxan is approved fora range of conditions, including both blood cancers and non-cancer uses. As a consequence,conversations about the drug may be the focus of more but smaller communities that cumulativelylack the size of, for example, the breast cancer community.But not all therapies are discussed in the same online outlets. While most online mentions ofmedications occur in the context of digital news stories—where Avastin, Herceptin and Rituxan,respectively, hold the top three slots—forums have a different breakdown, with Herceptin, Xelodaand Gleevec as the most-discussed medications. Alimta, a lung cancer therapy, is the most cited ofthe 10 medications on blogs.24 THE SOCIAL ONCOLOGY PROJECT: Medications0 2,000 4,000 6,000 8,000Volume of Mentions (Twitter)TARCEVAXELODAVELCADEERBITUXALIMTAELOXATINGLEEVECHERCEPTINAVASTINRITUXAN
  26. 26. The SocialOncology ProjectNOTE ONDATA SOURCES
  27. 27. The data in this report came from a variety of sources, indicated as applicable.The bulk of the information was pulled from Sysomos and analyzed by theW2O Group authors. The analysis was performed over the weeks of March6 and 13, restricted to conversations in the United States and generally dealtwith one year of data.Some select Twitter information, particularly pertaining to the #BCSMdiscussion, came from of the data in “Section II: Use by Doctors” was generated from W2OGroup’s MDigitalLife database. That proprietary tool tracks matched Twitterhandles with physicians’ NPI (National Provider Identifier) numbers.This serves two purposes: first, it verifies that the doctors in the databaseare, indeed, validated physicians. Second, it also allows analysis not onlyof tweets, but also data linked to the NPIN, such as specialty and location.MDigitalLife is the first (and so far, the only) database tracking doctors’ “digitalfootprint” and tethering it to an official registry. The dataset is in the processof expanding beyond twitter (to include all digital properties owned by thephysician) and beyond the US, leveraging the physician registries in morethan 15 countries.For more information on any of the content contained in this report,please contact Brian Reid at THE SOCIAL ONCOLOGY PROJECT: Note on Data Sources