Marketing of personalized cancer care on the web: an analysis of Internet websites

J Natl Cancer Inst. 2015 Mar 5;107(5):djv030. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djv030. Print 2015 May.


Internet marketing may accelerate the use of care based on genomic or tumor-derived data. However, online marketing may be detrimental if it endorses products of unproven benefit. We conducted an analysis of Internet websites to identify personalized cancer medicine (PCM) products and claims. A Delphi Panel categorized PCM as standard or nonstandard based on evidence of clinical utility. Fifty-five websites, sponsored by commercial entities, academic institutions, physicians, research institutes, and organizations, that marketed PCM included somatic (58%) and germline (20%) analysis, interpretive services (15%), and physicians/institutions offering personalized care (44%). Of 32 sites offering somatic analysis, 56% included specific test information (range 1-152 tests). All statistical tests were two-sided, and comparisons of website content were conducted using McNemar's test. More websites contained information about the benefits than limitations of PCM (85% vs 27%, P < .001). Websites specifying somatic analysis were statistically significantly more likely to market one or more nonstandard tests as compared with standard tests (88% vs 44%, P = .04).

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • DNA Mutational Analysis*
  • Genetic Testing* / methods
  • Genetic Testing* / standards
  • Genetic Testing* / statistics & numerical data
  • Genetic Testing* / trends
  • Humans
  • Internet* / standards
  • Internet* / statistics & numerical data
  • Marketing of Health Services*
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Precision Medicine*
  • United States
  • United States Food and Drug Administration