30 Dec 2021

The Importance Of Not Relying On Dr. Google For Medical Advice

With the ever-growing amount of information available to us online, it is important to remember that Google is an information source and not an online doctor.

A 2020 eHealth study by Edith Cowan University researchers showed that out of the 36 free web-based symptom checkers a correct diagnosis as the first result happened just 36% of the time. Also, the advice provided regarding when/where to seek healthcare and treatment was accurate less than half the time!

The term ‘cyberchondria’ refers to the sprawling anxiety caused by looking up medical symptoms on the internet.  Ironically the resulting stress can actually cause our immune system to function worse and create more panic.   This is something I have seen a lot more of in our practice over the years as the internet has become an ingrained part of all our lives.

If you do encounter an issue, the important thing to remember is not to panic. Google shows us the very worst-case scenario, the very worst outcomes.  It even displays images that instill further fear and terror.  In the absolute majority of cases patients have something either benign or completely treatable. The most important thing is to get your concerns checked out by a qualified health professional, as soon as possible.

Dr Google Often Causes More Worry And Stress

Ironically, studies show that many of us use ‘Doctor Google’ to seek reassurance that everything is fine and end up feeling much worse than before. It can easily spiral into spending many hours on the internet every day, and with every click, the pit of worry gets deeper.

There is a balance that needs to be struck, and the outcome of those actions can be life-saving.  We have guided many patients through their worries and fears to get outcomes on the other side but it is important to find a balance between obsessively Googling and completely ignoring our own bodies.

Be Vigilant With Breast Self Examinations

Vigilance in looking out for warning signs is incredibly important. Early detection is the best way to find breast cancer early. This means treatment can start as early as possible.

Utilising my easy to follow ‘three step’ process, LOOKLIFTFEEL, which is a simple breast examination you can undertake yourself at home in front of the mirror, is the ideal way to check the health of your breasts on a regular basis.  It is not meant to replace regular checkups, but rather supplement them in between checkups and annual scans.  If you find anything concerning, you can make an appointment with your GP who will then determine the next best steps.

Spending too much time on Google only contributes to the worry already being felt and then impacts our overall health and wellness.

The upshot is that the worry caused by the information found on Google can make you more anxious. Our advice is, if you are worried about something, speak to your GP or your specialist instead.

Our Specialist Breast Cancer Advice

It’s so important to remember that your GP and surgeons like Dr Sanjay Warrier & Dr Jue Li Seah have had many, many years of education and experience in all areas of breast cancer treatment.  We can see you and speak with you whereas Google cannot.

There is no point worrying about the worst-case scenario when in the vast majority of times, it is nothing to worry about. The only person who can provide a diagnosis or suggest a suitable treatment is a qualified medical professional.

Even if you don’t notice any physical signs of lumps and bumps in your breasts, women aged above 40 need to have a breast screen every two years. Breast screening can detect cancerous tissue that is invisible to the hand or naked eye and early detection can allow for a greater range of treatment.

Even if a lump is not cancerous, it can be an important indicator of other conditions such as mastitis or cysts.

Contact our clinic today if you want professional advice when it comes to your breast health.