Breast cancer is one of the most pressing health concerns affecting millions of women worldwide. In 2011, approximately half a million women died of this dangerous disease (WHO, 2017). Notably, this disease is believed to affect developed countries the most; however, statistics shows that developing regions including Western Europe and Africa have recently faced increasing incidence rates. Although there are no proven ways to prevent breast cancer, it is generally considered that a healthy diet, physical activity, and limited alcohol intake can play a protective role. More importantly, scholars highlight the critical role of early diagnosis in treating this type of cancer. It is recommended to undergo regular self-examination and mammography to detect early stages of the disease that can be treated. Therefore, raising women’s awareness of the problem is essential to reduce the burden of this disease. Social media users can contribute to increased awareness by communicating messages and disseminating vital information (Lapointe, Ramaprasad, & Vedel, 2014).
During the past decade, social media has become the platform for sharing knowledge, communicating, and obtaining support. It is not surprising, therefore, that social media websites have long attracted attention of healthcare organizations and activists aiming to raise people’s awareness of diseases. Numerous campaigns have been organized that engage women in conversations about their health, disseminate information about prevention and treatment, and motivate users to be proactive (Copp, 2016). Statistics shows that these campaigns can be extremely effective in reducing the cases of breast cancer, mostly because many women still lack knowledge about this disease. Evidence indicates that social media campaigns have motivated more women to undergo mammography and increased doctor visits (Copp, 2016).
Online community is vital for many women who either lack awareness or do not have resources to obtain professional support. According to Lapointe et al. (2014), social media platforms allow women to find caregivers, connect with people having the same concerns, share information, and fight their fears. They also facilitate informed decision-making and make women more empowered to take care of their health and well-being (Lapointe et al., 2014). To summarize, given the scale of breast cancer worldwide, there is a necessity of creating an easily accessible online community where women could acquire knowledge about prevention and treatment. In this case, knowledge is the power that can save many lives, and social media send this immense power in the right direction.
Copp, E. (2016). How #StoriesOfTheGirls raised breast cancer awareness using social media. Hootsuite. Retrieved from https://blog.hootsuite.com/advocate-health-care-case-study-breast-cancer-awareness/
Lapointe, L., Ramaprasad, J., & Vedel, I. (2014). Creating health awareness: A social media enabled collaboration. Health Technology. Retrieved from https://www.mcgill.ca/desautels/files/desautels/creating_awareness_through_social_media_-_health_and_technology_0.pdf
World Health Organization (WHO). (2017). Breast cancer: Prevention and control. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/cancer/detection/breastcancer/en/index1.html
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