To examine trends in online search behaviors related to prostate cancer on a national and regional scale using a dominant major search engine.

Google Trends was queried using the terms “prostate cancer”, “prostate specific antigen” (PSA), and “prostate biopsy” between January 2004 and January 2019. Search volume index (SVI), a measure of relative search volume on Google, was obtained for all terms and examined by region and time period: pre-USPSTF Grade D draft recommendation on PSA-screening, during the active Grade D recommendation, and after publication of the recent Grade C draft recommendation.

Online interest in PSA screening differed by time period (p<0.01). SVI for PSA screening was greater pre-Grade D draft recommendation (82.7) compared to during the recommendation (74.5), while SVI for PSA screening was higher post-Grade C draft recommendation (90.4) compared to both prior time periods. Similar results were observed for prostate biopsy and prostate cancer searches. At the State level, online interest in prostate cancer was highest in South Carolina (100) and lowest in Hawaii (64). For prostate cancer treatment options, online interest in cryotherapy, prostatectomy, and prostate cancer surgery overall increased, while searches for active surveillance, external beam radiation, brachytherapy and high-intensity focused ultrasound remained stable.

Online interest in prostate cancer has changed over time, particularly in accordance with USPSTF screening guidelines. Google Trends may be a useful tool in tracking public interest in prostate cancer screening, diagnosis, and treatment, especially as it relates to major shifts in practice guidelines. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

BJU international. 2019 Jun 17 [Epub ahead of print]

Michael E Rezaee, Briana Goddard, Einar F Sverrisson, John D Seigne, Lawrence M Dagrosa

Section of Urology, Department of Surgery, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, One Medical Center Drive, Lebanon, NH, 03756., Geisel School of Medicine, 1 Rope Ferry Road, Hanover, NH, 03755.