Most patients want to know as much as possible about their disease however they often feel unhappy with the information provided by their doctor. Patients frequently turn to other information sources but the medical language can be difficult to comprehend and very confusing.
To maximise patient understanding, French universities collaborated with the French League Against Cancer to build a patient oriented dictionary of terms. The idea was to create a resource that converted medical jargon into every day speech.
The researchers analysed hundreds of information resources used by patients to discover how patients wrote and talked about their cancer experience. They looked at health websites and followed breast cancer discussion forums. The terms were then analysed and the meanings defined. Similar words were then grouped together into one concept and then the concepts were structured into groups of words that had a relationship.
It was discovered that patients and doctors used very different words and expressions to talk about breast cancer. Patients used an incredible 3,000 different words and phrases to talk about their condition.
R. Messai who presented the findings said, "We really hope that doctors make use of this research and begin to use common words and phrases used by patients. By talking in a language patients understand doctors can make the breast cancer experience slightly easier."
It is hoped that the complete French dictionary will be available next year. The French team then hope to work with the UMLS (Unified Medical Language System) in the Unites States to create the first bilingual (French and English) patient friendly terminology for breast cancer.