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Comment & Response |

Association of Google Search Volume Index Peaks for Skin Cancer With Skin Cancer Awareness Month

Jonathan Kantor, MD, MSCE, MA1,2
[+] Author Affiliations
1Department of Dermatology, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
2Florida Center for Dermatology, PA, Saint Augustine
JAMA Dermatol. 2016;152(1):113. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2015.3814.
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To the Editor I read with great interest the article by Bloom et al1 on the use of Google Trends to assess the US population’s interest in skin cancer. The authors should be commended for presenting this novel methodology as an approach to assessing patient interest in skin cancer, and for examining the putative relationship between the search volume index (SVI) and melanoma outcomes.

The authors highlight that interest in skin cancer and melanoma is cyclical and that the “summer months” consistently demonstrate the highest SVI for skin cancer and melanoma searches. Yet Google Trends data show a consistent peak for the search term “skin cancer” in the month of May. Given sun exposure trends, the a priori assumption would be that searches for skin cancer and melanoma, spurred by sun overexposure and burns, would peak in mid July. The early peak in May, before most Americans have increased their sun exposure behaviors, followed by a persistently high level of interest over the summer months, suggests that something other than sun exposure patterns may be driving this phenomenon. Interestingly, a recent Brazilian study on the frequency of web visits to the Brazilian National Cancer Institute website failed to demonstrate a cyclical pattern of interest in skin cancer.2


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January 1, 2016
Kyle T. Amber, MD; Romi Bloom, BS; Shasa Hu, MD
1Department of Dermatology, University of California Irvine Health Center, Irvine
2Department of Dermatology & Cutaneous Surgery, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, Florida
JAMA Dermatol. 2016;152(1):113-114. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2015.3815.
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