In response to identification, by the National Cancer Control Initiative, of a need to keep GPs informed regarding cancer control, GPs in South Eastern Sydney have been provided with concise information on particular topics since October 1999. This end has been achieved through publication of Cancer Control Bulletins at a rate of about eight per year and their distribution with the active support of relevant GP divisions. In September 2000 the program expanded to the internet, where 32 Bulletins are currently available.
Being web-based, the bulletins are accessible to the wider community. However monitoring of the pattern of ‘hits’ following publicity in GP divisional newsletters has indicated that ‘local’ GPs are the foremost users. Thus, following such publicity, the number of hits to the website increased by 160%, remaining at this level for three months, and decreasing to pre-publicity numbers in the fourth month. The total number of ‘hits’ to the Bulletin website for the 15-month period was 32,612 (figure one).
Since monitoring of the website began, the Bulletin on testicular cancer has been, by far, the most downloaded file, being accessed up to five times more often than the average number of hits to any Bulletin. The testicular cancer Bulletin has been consistently the most frequently accessed Bulletin and has on numerous occasions been the most downloaded file from the whole South Eastern Sydney Area Health Service website. The ‘hits’ on the testicular cancer Bulletin are not explicable with reference to it being a recent publication, nor has this Bulletin been subject to any additional publicity.
The second most commonly accessed Bulletin is the issue concerning new chemotherapy drugs, closely followed by the issue on the latest on skin cancer and cancer in children.
A simple explanation as to why testicular cancer should be consistently the focus of most enquiries is not apparent. It is evident, however, that there is a need for information on this subject by GPs. Such need does not appear to be correlated with enquiries from the general public, since analysis by The Cancer Council NSW of queries to the national helpline showed that testicular cancer was the 15th most called about cancer. Breast, skin, prostate, colon and lung were the most commonly asked about cancer sites1. We are aware of the GP education seminar “On The Ball” (www.uco.org.au) hosted by The Cancer Council NSW, this doesn’t account for the pattern of enquiry.