Explore what The Learning Center has to offer
Closure Notice: The Main and Mays Learning Centers will close at 1 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 8. We will reopen on Monday, Dec. 11, at 9 a.m.
The Learning Center is a patient education library. We provide current and reliable information on cancer prevention, treatment, coping and general health. Whether you’re looking to research a specific cancer topic or you have questions about services available at MD Anderson, we can help you find answers.
Resources available at our Texas Medical Center locations include:
- Books, CDs and DVDs
- Brochures and pamphlets
- Online medical journals and databases
- Health magazines, journals and newsletters
- Computer and internet access, printing, faxing and scanning
Patient Education Videos
Theodore N. Law Learning Center
Main Building, Floor 4, Elevator A, R4.1100
Monday - Friday, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Levit Family Learning Center
Mays Clinic, Floor 2, near Elevator T, ACB2.1120
Monday - Friday, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Holden Foundation Learning Center
Jesse H. Jones Rotary House, Floor 1, RH1.103
Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Sunday, 10:30 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Closed on Saturday
Mindfulness for Beginners
Join us for an introduction to meditation. This session will include a sitting meditation, a walking meditation, and a mindful movement exercise.
Sarah Strickler Stone, LCSW
Senior Social Work Counselor
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Teacher
Second Wednesday of the month
10:30 to 11:30 a.m.
The Learning Center Classroom, R4. 1121
Main Building, Floor 4, Elevator A
No registration required
Stop by The Learning Center each Wednesday for information and giveaways. Topics repeat each month on a weekly rotation.
Wednesdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Main Building, Floor 4, Elevator A
Mays Clinic, Floor 2, near Elevator T
Week 1: Finding Reliable Health Information Online & Questions to Ask Your Medical Team
Week 2: Relaxation and Stress Reduction
Week 3: Caring for the Caregiver
Week 4: Nutrition for Cancer Patients
Week 5: Relaxation and Stress Reduction
If you’re reading this blog post, you’re among the three-quarters of all Americans who search for health information online.
The good news is you're on MD Anderson's website, a trusted source of cancer information.
But Adela Justice, a senior librarian with The Learning Center at MD Anderson, says not every website is as reliable.
“While the Internet can be a great source of material, it also provides some misleading and inaccurate information,” she says. “For newly diagnosed cancer patients, this can be overwhelming, confusing and even frightening.”
To separate fact from fiction, Justice suggests asking yourself six questions when viewing cancer information online:
1. Who owns the website you’re visiting?
The three letters at the end of a website’s address provide clues about who runs the site. As a rule, addresses ending in “.edu” (educational), “.gov” (government) and “.org” (nonprofit) are trustworthy and unbiased. Commercial “.com” and “.net” websites provide a wealth of information about companies and their products and services, but because they often are for-profit, they should be looked at with a critical eye. Some, like pharmaceutical companies, provide science-backed, factual information, and some do not.
“Most reliable sources of health information tend to be hospitals, universities, government agencies and major public health and health advocacy organizations,” says Justice. “Websites that promote or sell products may be more likely to have slanted or inaccurate health information than sites designed to simply provide information. Be sure to look at these carefully.”
2. Does the website provide contact information?
Trustworthy websites provide contact information you can use to reach the organization that owns the site. Look for a phone number, email or mailing address under “Contact Us.” For information about the organization’s history and purpose, click on “About Us.”
“If the organization that’s responsible for the content is not clearly identifiable, don’t trust the website,” Justice says.
3. Where does the information on the website come from?
“Credible cancer information is based on carefully designed clinical trials involving large groups of people,” Justice explains, “such as those that take place at MD Anderson.”
It’s important to note, she adds, that the validity of a clinical trial’s findings is determined by the number of people participating, the academic credentials of the trial’s researchers, and whether the results can be repeated by other researchers.
Once these stringent criteria are met, a clinical trial’s findings are published in peer-reviewed scientific and medical journals. Reputable websites provide a link to these journal articles to support the information on the website.
4. How current is the information on the website?
Researchers are rapidly making advance in cancer treatment. As a result, treatments that were used a couple of years ago may no longer be your only options today.
“You don’t want to make decisions about your care based on out-of-date information,” Justice says.
Look at the dates on articles, or scroll down to the bottom of the website page to see when it was last updated, she recommends. If a medical journal article is shared on the website, be sure to check the article’s publication date.
5. Is it scientifically proven?
Much of the misleading information online advocates replacing scientifically backed cancer treatments with alternative therapies, like herbal supplements, healing crystals and detox diets.
“Besides wasting patients’ money,” Justice says, “unproven alternative therapies can delay or interfere with potentially lifesaving, scientifically proven treatments.”
She adds that alternative medicine should not be confused with integrative medicine, sometimes called complementary medicine.
“Alternative medicine replaces conventional, proven treatments,” Justice explains, “whereas integrative medicine techniques, like yoga, music therapy and massage, are used along with conventional medicine to relieve symptoms and improve the patient’s experience.”
Legitimate drugs and devices intended to treat cancer must gain Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval or clearance before they are made available to patients. The agency’s review process requires multiple phases of clinical trials to help ensure treatments are safe and effective.
Still, anyone can place information, good or bad, on the Internet.
“It’s up to you, the consumer, to know how to tell the difference,” Justice says.
6. Do they use overpromising language?
Look for these red-flag phrases, Justice advises, when reading about cancer treatments on the Internet:
- “Miracle cure” – “Fraudulent cancer ‘cures’ have been around for a long time,” Justice says. “If they worked, cancer would be eradicated by now.”
- “All natural” – “Natural does not always mean safer or better,” she warns. “Arsenic is a natural substance, but that doesn’t mean you want it in your body.”
- Conspiracy-themed claims like “This is the cure our government or big pharma doesn’t want you to know about,” or “here’s what your doctor won’t tell you.” – Justice notes that “This ‘us versus them’ narrative is designed to create distrust of conventional medicine.”
- “Hurry, this is a limited-time offer” or “the first 50 callers will receive a bonus gift.” – “Phrases like these,” Justice says, “are designed to get you to act fast before you have time to reconsider.”
Your doctor is the best source of information
“The information you find online is a tool to help you become more informed,” Justice says, “but it should never replace your doctor’s advice.”
“If you read about something interesting online, discuss it with your doctor first before trying it,” she says. “Your doctor knows your health history, your family’s health history, the stage of your disease, and your tumor’s genetic profile. There’s no substitute for that.”
Request an appointment at MD Anderson online or by calling 1-877-632-6789.