ContentScan's Cancer Dome
By Suzanne Sabroski
The Big Ccanceris the focus of ContentScan's newest Dome product.
Adding to its discipline-specific Dome database products in neurology (NeuroDome)
and communication disorders (ComDisDome), privately held ContentScan, Inc.
has brought its model of expert editorial input to the field of clinical and
CancerDome content includes books, dissertations, journal articles, grants,
research and academic institution profiles, author profiles, and expert selected
Web sites. It lays claim to the largest collection of active authors publishing
on cancer-related topics, providing a new pathway to this content. Continuously
updated and accessible either from a library's OpenURL linking, site licensing,
and direct links to content providers, CancerDome attempts to "ensure that
resources are relevant to the study of cancer" and to "provide a focused, productive
search experience for both expert and beginning users."
THE WEB IS FOR EVERYONE, THE DOME IS FOR YOU
Visitors to CancerDome are immediately reminded that they are not aimlessly
searching the Internet. Content descriptions are linked for oncology educators,
clinicians, researchers, and students. Within sub-headings of "The Challenge" and "The
Solution," the proliferation of medical information is laid out and the frustrations
of general Web searching are stated. To make this point further, the FAQ even
includes a chart comparing CancerDome to Google, Amazon, PubMed, and ERIC.
CancerDome places its emphasis upon the expert selection of sourcesand
an environment of professionalism is immediately established with the introduction
of Dr. Asad Bashey as editor-in-chief. The introductory material provides an
effective mix of anticipating user needs and explaining what exists within
the site, setting the expectation that proper medical terminology is being
Three initial options appearSearch, Browse, or Save & Share. Search
brings up a simple search box, while Browse lets you choose between Cancer
Corner, which contains links to associations, societies, foundations, patient
support groups, manufacturers, funding sources, treatment and research centers,
and conferences, and Topic Guide, which includes a hierarchical list of 25,000
topics allowing a drill-down, guided search to resources on cancer topics.
Save & Share is a search management feature that can annotate results using
My Shared Folders.
To demonstrate the importance of terminology, I entered the term lymphoma
in the search box. This returned 36,025 articles, 100 books, 8,838 Web resources,
and 127 selected authors. An Institutions tab showed zero, and at the time
of this review, the Grants tab was linked to a "coming soon" page. A Topic
Guide appeared with a list of 10 links categorized by types of lymphoma. I
was given the option to sort by keyword, date, and first author, or click on
a bar to see results in PubMed.
With too many results to sift through, I entered the term Hodgkin's lymphoma.
This returned 11,897 articles, 47 books, 3,291 Web resources, and 139 selected
authors. Ten selections appear in the Topic Guide specifying types of Hodgkin's
To narrow this further I entered pediatric Hodgkin's lymphoma in the search
box, which returned 349 articles, 8 books, 770 Web resources, and 196 selected
authors. Four selections appeared in the Topic Guide, one for each stage of
"Sort by date" produced several pages with 10 articles apiece, showing those
published within just the past few months. "Sort by keyword" did not accomplish
much; its value in this situation is unclear because it turned up many articles
about non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (a term for a set of separate diseases) and I
was already under the assumption that I was looking at articles about my topic.
It would be useful to have a NOT feature at this point, or some way to eliminate
unwanted results. "Sort by first author" presented the same 349 articles by
alphabetical listing of authors. In all presentations, each article was linked
to an abstract and full citation.
So was I looking at the most current articles? The "See Results in PubMed" bar
imported my search terms into PubMed. It also displayed 349 articles, but returned
several newer citations. Curious, I clicked on "Learn More," which provided
the following explanation: "CancerDomesearch only selected journal articles
in the field of fields of Cancer and Oncology Research; PubMedsearch
all journal articles from PubMed, not filtered by field."
GET THIS ARTICLE
Back to CancerDome, "Get this Article" took me to a page with options to
connect to Infotrieve, password-protected links to aggregators CSIRO and EBSCO,
a TOXNET link, and two free links to MEDLINEPlus. A pleasant surprise at the
bottom of the page was "LibrariesFind this article at a library near
you," which presented a list of university and medical libraries throughout
the U.S. that subscribe to the cited journal, and if the libraries held a print
or electronic subscription. (Not to go too far off on a tangent, but could
this be useful as competitive intelligencea way to see who subscribes
A bar at the bottom of the article display page gave the option to export
citations to EndNote, RefManager, or ProCite. A link was provided to send feedback
about these results directly to CancerDome to discuss findings, suggest a topic,
or ask for clarification from the CancerDome editors.
Within a majority of the article citations, at least one author name was
hotlinked to a Selected Author Details page. The example I looked at provided
the physician's personal faculty Web page with contact details and a photo,
the Web page of her hospital affiliation, a list of all her articles indexed
by CancerDome, and links to each article.
All along in the search process the Save & Share feature was available,
billed as "your personal storage and sharing center." Suggested uses were to
create and send resource lists to patients with commentary; generate reading
lists for students or classes, and, interestingly, "instantly send evidence
from the literature to insurance providers for faster reimbursement." You can
send results to a private or a shared folder, or post on your personal Dome
Testing out the Topic Guide to the right of the screen, I clicked on Stage
IV Pediatric Hodgkin's Lymphoma. This produced one book, 55 articles, 80 Web
sites, and 71 selected authors. Clicking on the book took me to the Dome bookstore
with details on the publicationa medical textbookand the option
to order one of two copies in stock.
The Web Resources tab produced a list of 80 sites, with the context of the
reference, name of the site, URL, and a "more matches at this site" option.
Searching still needed to be done at some of the sites, while others produced
a deep link. The results were all relevant to the particulars of the disease.
The first hit was a newly updated PDQ (physician data query) from the National
Cancer Institute, a cancernews.com entry dated 1998, current news from major
associations and support networks, and ongoing clinical trial information.
Back at the beginning of the site, the Browse feature produced two choicesCancerCorner
and Topic Guide. CancerCorner brought up an excellent mix of associations and
societies, manufacturers with selections such as biotechnology companies and
research equipment, funding sources, treatment and research centers, and a
conference calendar. Topic Guide offered selections such as chemotherapy regimens,
diagnostic and prognostic factors, and organismsall reflecting a high
level of clinical information.
Advanced search offered three drop-down boxes to search within text, title,
author, or ISBN, with limiters of all terms, any term, and exact phrase. A
date limitation box is presented, along with a sort results by keyword, first
author, or publication date. Entering Hodgkin's lymphoma as an exact phrase
in the title and adding pediatrics within the text produced 148 articles, 540
Web resources, and 147 author profiles. "Sort by date" brought up mostly the
same articles I had seen already. Again, my complaint was seeing too many articles
about non-Hodgkin's lymphomastill no NOT feature. This time, however,
128 institutions appeared in the results tab. This was helpful as it contained
details on medical facilities with pediatric hematology/oncology departments,
department profiles, and staff contact details.
Though not presented as an option, I was able to truncate the term lymphoma
with an asterisk; lymph returned over 125,000 articles while lymph returned
just over 27,000.
THE "C" WORD
It is widely known that health and medical information is the number-one
reason people go the Internet. In particular, there is more information on
cancer than anyone could ever find or digest. With the proliferation of reliable
sources amidst the quackery of miracle cures and misinformation, products to
help professionals cut through the noise of the Web and save their valuable
time are needed.
Does CancerDome accomplish this? It depends who you ask. Testimonials on
the site, from educators and students in particular, comment positively on
the save and store features as well as the author linking capabilities. For
clinicians looking for the most current information, perhaps not.
Yoav Messinger, M.D., a pediatric oncologist at Children's Hospitals and
Clinics in St. Paul, Minnesota, spends quite a bit of time online in addition
to caring for patients. Having worked with CancerDome for awhile, he was unimpressed
and had the following comments. "1. The search engine is no better than PubMed,
which is available free. Moreover, many articles coming up are old and not
useful. 2. It does search for books. However, the books are then only available
for purchase, again limiting the use of this site. 3. It is not clear to me
the benefit of this site vs. other sites."
Moderately priced and perhaps most useful as an information organizing and
presentation tool, CancerDome's strength lies in its save and store features,
and in connecting oncology professionals. Tying Web sites into results with
books, articles, and institutions is of some value, though information professionals
would quickly find these sites on their own. The Browsing compilations did
pull some unique content such as biotech companies and chemotherapy regimens,
again tying things together neatly. Further investigation may be warranted
to see if there is an embargo period on new articles and to keep an eye on
PubMed entries for currency comparisons. The Grants tab, under development
at the time of this review, may prove to be of value for research funding or
Suzanne Sabroski [email@example.com] is an independent information
professional and writer, based in northern Minnesota.
Comments? E-mail letters to the editor to Marydee@xmission.com.