Purpose: This study aimed to reveal the habits of using internet by cancer patients and their relatives to access health-related information and services in Turkey.
Methods: An 18-item questionnaire survey was applied in cancer patients and their relatives.
Results: A total of 1106 patients (male, 37.3%, and female, 62.7%) and their relatives were included in the study. The responders had been using internet to obtain health information about oncological diseases, once a month (34.2%), 1-2 times a week (27.4%) or 2-3 times a month (21.9%). After diagnosis of cancer was made, participants more frequently (64.4%) investigated health-related issues, while 64.9% of them considered internet as an important search tool, and 16.7% of them had thought to give up cancer therapy under the influence of internet information. Some (33.1%) participants had used herbal medicine, and 16.7% of them had learnt these herbal products from internet. Still 12.7% of them had not questioned the accuracy of internet information, while 26.9% of them indicated that they had not shared the internet information about cancer with their physicians, and 13 % of them searched information in internet without asking their physicians.
Conclusion: Cancer patients and their relatives showed a higher tendency to use health-related internet information which may mislead them, and can result in treatment incompliance. Health professionals should offer evidence-based information to the patients and their relatives through internet.