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(NC)-If a picture is worth a thousand words, how do you use pictures to help people understand and learn about a sensitive subject like breast cancer? Researchers from the division of biomedical communications in the department of surgery at the University of Toronto are exploring the use of images to study how best to teach women at risk about breast cancer.
Text and images are used on the Breast Matters site (www.bmc.med.utoronto.ca/ breastmatters) to explain and portray the complex information about breast cancer and breast health for Canadian women. The site is informational, free of jargon and includes definitions and visual explanations of complex concepts. The site includes an overview of breast anatomy, a section on early detection of breast cancer, self-examination, annual check-ups, mammography, ultrasound and x-ray and biopsy. Also included is information about breast cancer risk factors, risk reduction and links and resources for more information.
“Our team uses medical illustration to bridge art, science, medicine and communication,” said Professor Linda Wilson-Pauwels, co-lead investigator of the study. “Design and communication theory combined with scientific knowledge informs the production of visual material for health promotion and medical education – in this case about breast cancer.”
An initiative of the Bell University Laboratories, a collaborative research program funded by Bell Canada that contributes to innovation and leadership in the development of communications technology in Canada, the researchers used a focus group of 10 women from the breast cancer screening program at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto to determine what breast cancer information to feature and what sorts of visuals to use. Photography, video, animation and illustration are used with varying levels of complexity and interactivity to provide a visually stunning learning experience.
A second part of the site will be developed in 2003 for women coping with breast cancer. Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in Canadian women. It accounts for almost 1 in 3 cancer diagnoses among Canadian women. On average, 104 Canadian women die of breast cancer every week, according to Canadian Cancer Society estimates.