In the United States, prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in men after skin cancer. There is a paucity of research devoted to the types of prostate cancer information available on social media. YouTube ™ is a widely used video sharing site, which is emerging as a commonplace for health-related information. The purpose of this study was to describe the most viewed YouTube ™ videos related to prostate cancer. The 100 videos were watched a total of 50,278,770 times. Most of the videos were uploaded by consumers (45.0%) and medical or government professionals (30%).
The purpose of most of the videos (78.0%) was to provide information, followed by discussions on prostate cancer treatment (51%) and prostate specific antigen testing and routine screening (26%). All videos uploaded by medical and government professionals and 93.8% of videos uploaded from news sources provided information compared to about two-thirds of consumers and less than half of commercial and advertising videos (p <0.001). As society becomes more and more technology-based, it is necessary to help consumers gain knowledge and skills to identify credible information to help guide their decisions.
In the United States, prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in men after skin cancer (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016a). The risk of developing prostate cancer increases with age (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015). Due to the slow growing nature of prostate cancer, the signs and symptoms that indicate a man is developing cancer are often not evident. Doctors still screen their male patients using two types of techniques: digital rectal examination, which involves estimating the size of the prostate and sensing any abnormalities (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016a) and a test measures the level of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in the blood (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016a). Together, these tests provide a more accurate picture of prostate health than both tests alone. Higher levels of PSA in the blood may indicate the presence of prostate cancer, but there are other non-cancer-related conditions affecting the prostate that can elevate PSA levels (National Cancer Institute, 2012). Although it is widely used (Drazer, Huo, & Eggener, 2015), the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF; 2015) does not recommend PSA-based screening; however, professional organizations and other guideline creation agencies (Carter et al., 2013; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016b) that discourage the routine use of prostate cancer screening with both PSA and digital rectal examination, support individualized screening decision making. The American Cancer Society still includes this test in their recommendations for early diagnosis (American Cancer Society, 2016a). Current attitudes towards PSA screening for prostate cancer are varied and can be influenced by the source of information (Mosconi, Colombo, Satolli, Carzaniga, & Steering Committee and the Scientific Committee, 2016).
Given that prostate cancer is a common form of cancer in men (American Cancer Society, 2016b), it is important that healthcare professionals understand the type of information available on social media regarding this topic. For example, Prabhu et al. (2015) conducted a Twitter user study to analyze the reaction to the reformed recommendations of the USPSTF. Most users (68%) disagreed with the completed recommendations (Prabhu et al., 2015). This provides an example of a study using social media as a way to look at society’s health content, issues, and public health knowledge. The internet is an important source of health-related information. One survey indicated that 72% of those using the internet said they used the internet as a medium for searching for health information (Pew Research Center, 2013).
YouTube ™ is a social media site with users around the world totaling over a billion (YouTube ™, n.d.). Due to the fact that YouTube ™ has such a large and diverse user community, it could be a media channel to enhance public awareness and understanding or, conversely, to disseminate information that could cause harm with potentially misleading or invalid information .