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    Learning About Medical Studies Just Got Easier

    continued...

    For a less technical search, McRay says, Gillespie could have started on the home page. "Type in 'liver cancer,' for example, and you get 166 listings right there," she tells WebMD.

    Medicine is a technical field, and her staff is working hard to make the language on the web site more comprehensible to a lay audience, McRay says. "So when [Gillespie] was saying you need your pathology report in front of you, in a sense she's right. Because when you look at some of the eligibility criteria when you're being considered for a trial, you need certain characteristics, a certain blood count. You do need your pathology report." Another suggestion: "People can take this information to their physicians."

    Gillespie suggests that patients print the information right off the computer and take it to their doctors. Also, she says, if patients are searching for information on cancer, they should make sure they know the disease's origin. "I have patients calling me, and many times they'll tell me, 'My mom has liver cancer.' My first question is, 'Does she really have liver cancer or did it start somewhere else and spread to the liver?' The pathology report will tell whether it's carcinoma or adenocarcinoma, and will also give the organ of origin."

    Adds McRay, "For patients, it's overwhelming to have a disease. It's a very distressing thing, and all of a sudden you have to [conduct] a quick study in all this terminology, what this disease means. You want to do that in partnership with a doctor."

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