Tag Archives: professional development

(How) do you use social media? We investigate


ESO and our magazine Cancer World wanted to find out whether, by engaging more with social media, we could make it easier for people in the cancer community to interact with us and with one another.

We therefore contacted everyone on the ESO, e-ESO and Cancer World email lists, to ask them about whether they use social media, and if so how. The survey population included everybody who has ever attended an ESO educational event or conference (plus others signed up to Club ESO), everyone registered for e-ESO’s e-grandround and e-oncoreview webcasts, and everyone on the Cancer World email list.

The 660 responses we received represent a broad spectrum of ages, disciplines and countries. They are probably not, however, broadly representative of oncology professionals in general. The population as a whole is self-selected, having already chosen to engage with ESO and/or Cancer World, and those who responded are likely to be more involved with social media than those who did not.

Nonetheless, we feel the results offer a very interesting picture of social media use among a section of the professional cancer community, including some surprises.

Respondents come from all walks of the cancer community:

Almost half are medical oncologists, followed by surgical oncologists, radiotherapists, patient advocates, cancer nurses, pathologists, psycho-oncologists, and radiologists.

More the two-thirds are from Europe.

How old?
They covered a wide age range: the 31–40 and 41–50 age groups accounted for around 30% of respondents each, with around 20% in the 51–60 age group.

We asked: who uses social media?

tick image
85% said yes

cross image
15% said no

Interestingly older respondents were just as likely to use social media as younger ones. Lack of time and relevance were listed as the main reasons for not using it.

We asked how and why respondents use social media
We were pleasantly surprised by the response:

What best describes you use


Two out of three respondents who said they use social media, use it to keep up with developments in their field – not surprising.

But many of them are also using social media to interact with other people:

  • to interact professionally: more than half
  • to be part of a community and join discussions: 1 in 3
  • to initiate discussions: 1 in 5

how active are you

While 4 out of 10 respondents  say they use social media only to read what others have posted, almost half of  comment on what they read, 4 in 10 ‘like’ or share links to what others have posted, and a surprisingly high 1 in 4 contribute their own posts.

More than half belong to some form of online group, such as a LinkedIn, Facebook or Google group or email forum, or they follow a blog.

Preferred platforms
We asked which platform people use for ‘professional use only’ or ‘professional and personal’ use

linkedinLinkedIn is by far the most popular, used by almost 75% of respondents (more than 50% of them for professional reasons only)

YouTube-iconYouTube comes next at 54% (just over 10% for professional use only)


FB-f-Logo__blue_29Facebook comes in at nearly 44% (less than 3% of them for professional reasons only)


Followed by

btn_g_red_pressed.png-27Google+ at around 40% (10% professional only)


Twitter_logo_blueTwitter at 30% (11% professional only)


This is the first survey we know of investigating social media use among cancer professionals in Europe.

Even allowing for above average engagement among our survey population as a whole, and among respondents in particular, we were surprised and encouraged at the number of oncology professionals who use social media to interact, to join conversations and to start their own.

This survey was conducted as part of an effort to improve our own level of interaction, to play more of a role listening to and sharing what others in the community are saying, as well as spreading the word about conversations that we are promoting through this blog – Conversations for Collaboration and Change – and our magazine Cancer World.

The results of the survey can be found in more details Social Media Survey Results

Join the conversation!
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A new scientific discovery – the good journalist!

Peter McIntyre

Peter McIntyre

If the public is to understand the world of cancer research and treatment they need translators to turn scientific jargon into simple, clear and accurate information. And yes, they do exist. They are called journalists!

ESO supported 14 health journalists from TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, online publications and news agencies across Europe to attend the  ESMO 2014 Congress in Madrid in September.

A top line of experts came and talked to this group on precision medicine, the role of diagnostics, immunotherapy, the changing face of clinical trials and the implications for patient care. The journalists, only some of whom have science degrees, asked sharp questions: How many drugs make a real difference? How can we tell when researchers are over-promoting results?

ESMO 2014 congress Media Room

ESMO 2014 Congress Media Room

Reporting for a lay audience

Later they shared valuable insights into the challenges of reporting on cancer for a lay audience.

Rinke Van den Brink, a health editor for NOS News, the Netherlands national public broadcaster, has a mixed public of “University professors and people who have barely finished primary school.” He describes himself as “a simple journalist who learned to ask questions” and says that if he cannot explain the science in simple terms, it will probably not make it onto the news.

Maria Pineiro, health reporter on El Progreso the Spanish regional newspaper (with 150,000 readers a day) focuses on significant treatments, whether the health system will pay and the social consequences of having cancer, rather than about drugs the Spanish economy cannot afford. “I do not see the point of writing about something that my readers are not going to get.”

Anja Gorenc who reports on health for the Slovenia Press Agency (STA), says that most of the best stories do not come from press releases. “I communicate a lot with other people because I am a journalist. I talk about health problems with my friends, my relatives and that is how I get ideas.”

Emanuela Schweninger, health correspondent for Realitatea TV in Romania, points out that television demands emotional impact as well as expert information. “In Romania we have 50,000 patients who need radiotherapy and only 12 machines in all the country. So if I am a patient who needs radiotherapy now, I need to wait three or four months … and this is a tragedy.

“I love my job. For me to be health correspondent is part of my life….. My mum has cancer so I know exactly what it means and I try every day to help patients who need my help.”

All the journalists benefited from talking to experts at ESMO and many made new contacts with specialists from their own countries. KateTreshchikova, health correspondent for the Russian regional newspaper, Voronezh Messenger, said: “Together I think we can change the situation in our region with oncology.”

Keeping it real

However, they expressed caution about “breakthroughs”. Italian science writer, Marco Boscolo, said: “We have a social responsibility in that we don’t have to provide false hope for people.” And Maria Pineiro, delighted to have learned so much about emerging treatments, stressed the need for realism. “Everybody is trying so hard [but]…. I think we are quite far away from real new treatments that can make cancer a chronic disease which is the main goal I think of most oncologists and researchers.”

These journalists combine a drive to explain the science with a strong sense of humanity. Researchers, clinicians and other experts would do well to watch these short interviews to understand the challenges they face.

Please click on the faces to view each video
Anja Gorenc

Anja Gorenc

Emanuela Schweninger

Emanuela Schweninger

Kate Treshchikova

Kate Treshchikova


Marco Boscolo

Marco Boscolo

Maria Pineiro

Maria Pineiro

Maria Tcherneva

Maria Tcherneva

Rinke Van den Brinke

Rinke Van den Brinke

Sonia Ionescu

Sonia Ionescu