Breast cancer in Twitter: a real-world data exploratory study

Date 22 October 2018
Event ESMO 2018 Congress
Session Poster display session: Breast cancer - early stage, locally advanced & metastatic, CNS tumours, Developmental therapeutics, Genitourinary tumours - prostate & non-prostate, Palliative care, Psycho-oncology, Public health policy, Sarcoma, Supportive care
Topics Breast Cancer
Patient Education and Advocacy
Presenter Rodrigo Sanchez Bayona
Authors R. Sanchez Bayona1, L. Chang-Azancot2, M.A. Alvarez de Mon3, M. Llavero4, M. Vallejo3, I. Gardeazabal1, D. Salas1, P. Sala Elarre1, I. Baraibar Argota1, I. Eguren1, M. Santisteban Eslava1, L. Ceniceros1, E. Castanon Alvarez1
  • 1Department Of Oncology, Clinica Universidad de Navarra, 31008 - Pamplona/ES
  • 2Cirugía Plástica, C. H. Albacete, Albacete/ES
  • 3Psychiatry, Clinica Universitaria de Navarra, Pamplona/ES
  • 4Endocrinology And Nutrition, Clinica Universitaria de Navarra, Pamplona/ES

Abstract

Background

In the era of big data, the presence of cancer in social media is undeniable. Twitter is one of the biggest networks worldwide, therefore, it establishes an enormous real-world data field of interest when studying health issues. As far as we know, there are no exploratory studies about the content or the authorship of tweets related to breast cancer.

Methods

Tweets (original and re-tweets) with the hashtag #BreastCancer posted on Twitter during a 7-day period were collected. For the analysis, tweets were categorised based on their content (medical vs non medical and if medical, appropriate vs inappropriate), user information (private account vs institution or public account), the aim of the tweet (patients’ experience, relatives’ experience, advertising, scientific content, fund-raising and patient advocacy) and also on the extent to which they indicated a stigmatising attitude towards cancer. Tweets were further grouped into subthemes: diagnosis, treatment, prognosis and prevention (life-style and other risk factors).

Results

A total of 6341 tweets were collected (3703 original and 2638 re-tweets). When analysing original tweets, only 31% had medical content and in these, 90% were considered to have appropriate content. A stigmatising attitude towards cancer was identified in 14.8% of the tweets classified as non-medical content. 60% of the tweets came from private accounts and 40% from institutions or public accounts. Most of the tweets came from patients’ experiences (30.7%), followed by patient advocacy (25.3%). When considering subthemes, the most common topic was cancer prevention (44.5%).

Classification

N of tweets (%)

Tweets

Original

3703

Including re-tweets

6341

Content

Medical

1144 (31%, 90% appropriate content)

Non-medical

2559 (69%, 14.8% stigmatising)

Aim

Patient’s experience

1137 (30.7%)

Relative’s experience

96 (2.6%)

Advertising

585 (15.8%)

Scientific

641 (17.3%)

Fund-raising

307 (8.3%)

Patient-advocacy

937 (25.3%)

User account

Private

2222 (60%)

Institution/Public

1481 (40%)

Subtheme

Diagnosis

689 (18.6%)

Treatment

944 (25.5%)

Prognosis

422 (11.4%)

Prevention and others

1648 (44.5%)

Description of tweets (%) containing #BreastCancer in a 7-day period.

Conclusions

This is the first study to explore the authorship and content of tweets about breast cancer. Twitter users mostly tweet about life-styles and breast cancer awareness. The results of the study may be useful in assisting advocacy organisations to provide information about resources, support and raise awareness.

Clinical trial identification

Editorial Acknowledgement