Finding cancer information you can trust

2 minute read time.
Finding cancer information you can trust

What time does the café in the park open? Is the latest book by my favourite author any good? What movie have I seen that actor in?

For many of us, our first instinct when faced with everyday questions like these is to search the internet. And thanks to the devices in our homes and pockets, it’s never been easier or faster to find the answers.

But how do you know if you can trust what you’re reading? Especially for bigger questions about cancer, your treatment options and what to expect.

Quality information when you need it the most

Macmillan is a member of the Patient Information Forum (PiF). That’s why you’ll see the PiF tick at the bottom of our webpages, and on the back of our booklets. It shows that we’ve done everything we can to make sure our information is:

  • up to date
  • accurate
  • useful
  • easy to understand.

Many other organisations use the PiF tick – from NHS to other big health charities. But if you find information online that doesn’t have the PiF seal of approval, how can you tell if it’s reliable?

Your cancer information checklist

PiF has a list of 6 questions you should ask:

  • Who produced it? Is it an organisation you trust? What is it trying to make you do?
  • Is it trying to sell you something? People with something to sell don’t necessarily have your best interests at heart.
  • Does it look professional? Spelling mistakes or broken links are probably a good sign that the information hasn’t been checked by many people, or hasn’t been updated for a while.
  • Is there a date? We’re constantly learning more about cancer, the best way to treat it, and the risk factors that make it more likely. Even if the information was once accurate, it might not be any more. Macmillan and other PiF members review our information at least every 3 years. Each one of our booklets and webpages includes the date it was last checked, and the next time we’re planning to review it.
  • Is it backed by other organisations? What do other organisations that you trust say about this issue? Remember you can ask a Macmillan expert online, or call our Support Line on 0808 808 00 00.
  • Does it include sources or references? Each of our booklets lists the medical professionals who helped write it, and the places we found evidence for our claims. For example, we check the latest treatment guidelines for each type of cancer to make sure we know exactly what treatment you’re likely to have at each stage. And if you want to know more about the sources of evidence we use, email

The personal touch

PiF-certified information is based on the latest clinical evidence, but it isn’t written by medical professionals in a vacuum. We make sure that people with experience of cancer review each booklet. Their point of view is vital.

Without that, we can’t be sure that our information answers the questions people affected by cancer actually have. That’s why we are so grateful to everyone who gives their time or shares their story. They bring our facts and stats to life and help us to answer people’s big questions about cancer.

This blog was written by our Editor, Helen. If you have any feedback, or If you would like to sign up to review our content, email