YouTube: Searching for answers about breast cancer

Travis Brachtenbach, Raquel Cardenas, Heather Pate, Luanne Solis, Lauren Chinnery, Aaron Bowers, Matt Vassar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Introduction: Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, affecting approximately 1 in 8 women worldwide. Additionally, it is either the most or second-most lethal cancer depending on ethnicity. Many women and concerned family members turn to the internet for information regarding the signs, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of this life-altering condition. We sought to objectively evaluate the quality of the information available on YouTube concerning breast cancer. Methods: We searched YouTube for videos relating to breast cancer. We included videos that were less than 20 minutes in length, were in the top 200 for most views and were available in English, either subtitled or narrated. Videos were independently and blindly scored using a standardized scoring form. Possible scores ranged from negative infinity to 25.5 with one point being deducted for each misleading statement or claim. Results: After exclusions, 133 videos in our sample were evaluated. Out of a possible 25.5 points, the true mean was 3.90 with a standard deviation of 1.38. There were only 30 videos (22.5%) that scored more than 7 points. 12 (9.0%) videos scored 0 points or fewer. 12 (9.0%) of the videos in our sample contained at least one misleading statement with 9 of those contained multiple misleading statements with some videos having up to 10 such statements. Conclusion: While YouTube is an important source of information regarding breast cancer, few videos contain a significant amount of quality information and many of the videos contain false or misleading statements. In an area where patients are often scared and searching for answers, there is a significant need for more high-quality videos to educate patients and dispel myths and pseudoscience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-90
Number of pages6
JournalBreast disease
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2020


  • YouTube
  • breast cancer
  • evidence-based medicine
  • media
  • patient education

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'YouTube: Searching for answers about breast cancer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this