Suspicious Sites

Suspicious Sites:

May 21, 2008
by Colleen Brondou
Suspicious Sites shines its high beams on sites we think you should be wary of. This week: a site that claims to provide the latest leukemia and blood cancer treatment information but was created by a law firm with no medical background.

The Skinny

facebook claims that it “was created to help leukemia/blood cancer patients and their families and friends with up-to-date information about leukemia” and contains “vital information on coping with the personal and financial effects of leukemia.” The site repeatedly offers to send you a “Free Information Packet” that purportedly contains "the best treatment info & financial assistance." To get the packet, all you need to do is provide your name, address and other personally identifiable information, including which diseases you or your loved one have been diagnosed with. Because the site’s address ends in .org, you might assume that it’s a nonprofit organization dedicated to leukemia research and/or treatment.

The Suspicion

Though the site appears to have medical information on Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML), there’s also a heavy emphasis on benzene exposure. The information packet request form asks whether you or a loved one ever worked around benzene, which some believe is linked to AML leukemia. “Because some leukemias are linked to benzene exposure,” says text on the site, “see our At Risk Jobs and Benzene Exposure section to find out if you or a loved one has worked in a job associated with benzene poisoning.” Why the concern over benzene exposure?

As the findingDulcinea Guide to Web Search explains, to evaluate the credibility of information on a Web site, you have to find out who authored it, who funded the site and what their purpose was. If you scroll down to the very bottom of the homepage, well after the form asking for your personal information, you’ll find this very tiny text: “The website and free information packet is sponsored by Rod De Llano, Attorney, Houston. Not Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, Licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas … Case likely to be referred to another law firm.” Yes, exists only so that Rod De Llano can obtain your personal information, evaluate whether you have a potential lawsuit and then sell your name to another lawyer to defend you.

This is not a Web site you want to rely on for information about leukemia. To top it all off, this site contains a poignant “Survivor’s Story” to offer readers hope. The woman featured in this story died almost two years ago.

The Solution needs to drop the pretense of providing unbiased, medically sound information on AML leukemia and be up front about its true purpose: to drum up potentially lucrative clients for a law firm.

For truly credible information on leukemia, visit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Web site, and for more information on cancer in general, see the findingDulcinea Cancer Web Guide.

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