Interest in Skin Cancer in Urban Populations: A Retrospective Analysis of Google Search Terms in Nine Large German Cities
Linda Tizek, Maximilian C. Schielein, Melvin Rüth, Rolf-Markus Szeimies, Wolfgang G. Philipp-Dormston, Stephan A. Braun, Christine Hecker, Bernadette Eberlein, Tilo Biedermann, Alexander Zink
Skin cancer is a major public health issue, which could be reduced through prevention programmes. However, prevention utilization is not very prevalent. It is therefore important to understand individuals’ interest in skin cancer. Google AdWords Keyword Planner was used to identify the search volume of terms relating to skin cancer in 9 German cities between July 2014 and June 2018. From a total of 1,203 identified keywords, 1,047 search terms were related to skin cancer, which had a search volume of 3,460,980 queries for the study period. Most terms referred to “identifying skin cancer”. For melanoma, the number of Google searches per 100,000 inhabitants correlated with the cancer registry data for melanoma incidence rates (men: r = 0.810, women: r = 0.569). Assessment of this data for the different cities further enabled identification of regional variations, which could help to identify areas with a high need for targeted prevention campaigns.
This study examined the Google search volume for skin-cancer-related terms in 9 German cities. Overall, 3.5 million searches related to skin cancer were observed between July 2014 and June 2018. Most of these searches focused on the identification of skin cancer (e.g. ABCD and pictures of skin cancer). In general, the number of search queries per 100,000 inhabitants was lower in larger cities, such as Berlin or Hamburg, in comparison with Stuttgart or Muenster. Analysis of the differences in search behaviour between cities could help to identify areas with a high need for targeted prevention campaigns.