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Bill Tancer is the general manager of global research at Hitwise and writes a column for called “Science of Search.” His recent column on “Restless Leg, Mumps and Other Maladies” addressed the effect of media attention to certain conditions & diseases.

The column is a neat summary of a pattern we had noticed: The most common cancers are not the most common cancer search terms.

Here is a list of estimated numbers of new cases and deaths for each common cancer type:

1) Skin
2) Prostate
3) Lung
4) Breast
5) Colon

And here is a list of the top 5 cancer search terms in the Hitwise database for April:

1) Cancer
2) Breast cancer
3) Lung cancer
4) Cervical cancer
5) Skin cancer

Colon is #7 and prostate is #9. Some possible explanations: Women do more health-related searches than men. Cervical cancer was in the news because of the HPV vaccine. Any other ideas or observations from the field?