Pharma Strategy Blog

Commentary on Pharma & Biotech Oncology / Hematology New Product Development

After discussing the merits of web2.0 tools such as RSS feeds and Google Reader in competitive intelligence yesterday, it seemed a neat idea to look at what else is useful for finding and parsing information.  One of the coolest tools I use on a daily basis on the internet is Google Insights.

It's great for getting general trends and an indication of what is current in an area that you might be interested in.  Clients often call while travelling, for example, and want a general idea about a particular cancer topic.  Using Google Insights or Trends can be a boon in these cases.

Supposing someone calls and is interested in top line information on breast vs. lung cancer?  Now, while many of us might have a huge database in an aggregator such as Google Reader, it's a database and not so easy to use pictures to paint the picture to the question framed.

Using Google Insights, we can get a snapshot like this:

Picture 29

We can see immediately that breast cancer has a greater volume of interest on the internet than lung cancer, even though more people die per year from lung cancer.

We can also see what topics influence the upward trends and what topics have very little impact and see those trends over time.  A picture tells a thousand words.

On the simple one page report there is other useful information, such as which subjects are most newsworthy by tumour type based on the search volume:

Picture 30

And what ones are rising at the moment:

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What's fascinating about the above table is inflammatory breast cancer is quite rare and yet there is a lot of interest in the topic at the moment.  Clicking on the topic tells us more detail about what women are specifically searching for there:

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Few appear to be searching for treatments, but early signs and symptoms such as rash and itching are prominent.  Now, if you were a drug company developing a new therapy in this area and wanted to reach out to those patients, that could be useful information both for helping provide education on diagnosis, signs and symptoms etc and also for how the drug being developed might be positioned on their website should they be trying to attract patients into clinical trials, for example.

The lung cancer statistics tell us they people are searching for more general symptoms, the impact of smoking on the disease and treatments:

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In contrast, the Insights information on rising topics in lung cancer tells a very different story.  The most searched term here is 'stage 4 cancer', which would sadly fit in with the typical diagnosis for the disease, as are the related organs, suggesting that these patients are already experiencing common metastases (spread of the disease to other areas of the body):

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Overall, this is just one example of how powerful online tools such as Google Insights can be used to drill down for relevant and timely information on current trends and influencers.  Even in this simple exanple, you can see the differences between the two biggest tumour types and of course, other cancers may also show subtle, but different trends on analysis.  Thus, not all cancers are the same – they have different patient groups, influencers etc and should be treated as different diseases rather than just as 'cancer'.  Knowing that when researching the topic is important in itself as an analyst.  The information gleaned could also be useful for competitive intelligence when looking at tumour types or comparing different cancer drug trends.

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3 Responses to “Finding out what's hot and what's not in cancer trends”

  1. Sarah Arrow

    Hi Sally
    Another excellent blog, thank you.
    I recommend becoming a subscriber, these are great reads or bookmark them.
    I have a question, if I may, are breast cancer searches more dominant than lung cancer searches as there is more media awareness of it?
    If there was more media awareness of the earlier symptoms of Lung Cancer, would there be more searches on the early symptoms of this?
    I ask, as a person who has lost 2 grandfathers to lung cancer, who may have had choices if things had been discovered sooner.

  2. David

    This is really excellent information. I had no idea this tool was available and you explained it in such an easy to grasp fashion. Technical explanations aren’t the easiest to translate in layman’s terms either, but you did a really fine job here.
    I’m not in Pharma, but I am a writer and I see some great ways to use Google Insights in preparation for new articles and series.

  3. henrylow

    Often we forget the little guy, the SMB, in our discussions of the comings and goings of the Internet marketing industry. Sure there are times like this when a report surfaces talking about their issues and concerns but, for the most part, we like to talk about big brands and how they do the Internet marketing thing well or not so well.

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