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CancerGuide: Researching Your Options

Finding Information
+ Medline/PubMed
Understanding What You Find
How to Access MedLine

Why MedLine?

Knowing the previous results of treatment is the key to making good decisions about treatment. Through MedLine, you can find medical journal articles for almost any treatment you are considering and find information on treatments you didn't know about.

MedLine is the most powerful medical database in the world with in excess of 12 million references to the technical medical literature, most with abstracts (summaries of the referenced articles). The power of MedLine is the ability to get references to much of the latest technical data on treatment of your cancer in minutes.

Using MedLine requires skill, but it is well worth learning. In fact it's a near necessity if you're going to delve into the technical literature. The major difficulties are that the most effective terms to search under are based on medical technical language, that the search language itself is a bit technical, and that the results, being references to the technical medical literature, are entirely technical. Despite all of this, you can learn to use MedLine, although it may require a real effort. Another option, though, is to use a pay search service to do the work of searching for you. CancerGuide also has information on Medical Search Services and the pros and cons of using them.

MedLine is available for free on the web. Not all MedLine accesses are equal - when you have over 12 million entries in a database you need powerful tools to pull out just the information you need. PubMed, the National Library of Medicine's free MedLine access is very good, but consider spending a few bucks on PaperChase, an access which I find particularly easy to use.

Excellent Free Medline Access: The US National Library of Medicine's PubMed

The National Library of Medicine's PubMed is the preeminent MedLine access. Searching is less intuitive than it appears and it's worth understanding how it works so start out by taking their tutorial, and experiment to learn the ropes. Two major hints: You will want to use their MeSH browser to find appropriate "Medical Subject Headings" to use as Key Words, and you will want to learn their language for combining search terms (so you can search for references indexed by say carcinoma, renal cell AND paclitaxel).

I guarantee that after playing with these databases for a while you will wish you had some expert help. So now it's time to check CancerGuide's PubMed and MedLine Hints written by Helen Stanbro, who has indexed over 120,000 articles for the MedLine database and also Steve's MedLine Tips.

PaperChase MedLine

PaperChase is a powerful and very easy to use version of MedLine. It was the first MedLine access I used and I still think it's the easiest way to search MedLine because of its relatively friendly user interface. PaperChase is not free, but it is not expensive either. As of this writing (8/04) you can buy a month's unlimited access for twenty dollars. As a cancer patient searching for information now, this could be just what you need. For longer term needs, you can also get unlimited access for a full year for $150. You can also order article photocopies through PaperChase, although it's not exactly cheap.

PaperChase has a web page with complete details on their service, and with their on-line sign-up you can be searching MedLine in minutes.



After you have searched Medline you'll want to search the websites of professional societies involved in cancer research for research so new that it hasn't gotten into the databases yet.



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This CancerGuide Page By Steve Dunn. © Steve Dunn
Page Created: 1997, Last Updated: September 14, 2004