Doctors and nurses should get more involved in Wikipedia to ensure the free online encyclopaedia has the most up to date and accurate information on cancer, according to Cancer Research UK.

Speaking at the Wikimania 2014 conference in London, the charity discussed Wikipedia’s role as a resource for people searching for cancer-related information on the Internet, and how this fits in with their use of other online medical content.

Cancer Research UK – working with Wikimedia UK – is employing an ‘in-house’ Wikipedian in Residence and outlined its project plans at the conference. The Wikipedian will evaluate how people use the site to find information, and how to make the website's pages easier to understand. The project will be evaluated to look at if the content has improved since the project began.

A panel including Wikipedia’s medical editors will discuss the issues. 

Henry Scowcroft, Cancer Research UK’s news and multimedia manager, said: “Wikipedia is one of the most visited websites in the world, and probably the most frequently used online source of medical information. Keeping it up to date, accurate and relevant is a huge challenge – one that requires a lot of input, effort and time.

We’d like to see more medical professionals, researchers and science communicators get involved in editing and reviewing Wikipedia’s medical and scientific pages.

“We feel it’s our responsibility to make sure that cancer information online is as good as it can be, to remove uncertainty, reduce fear and worry, and to help people take their next steps after they, their family or friends hear the phrase ‘it’s cancer’.”

Jon Davies, Chief Executive of Wikimedia UK, said: "As someone who has personal experience of cancer, I know the information on Wikipedia has to be as good as possible. The work that Cancer Research UK is doing to support the improvement of medical content is excellent and I hope that many others will contribute to their efforts.”

"Wikipedia is one of the leading online sources of medical information, and as an encyclopaedia the medical content is used by a wide range of groups, including patients, those with a general interest, medical professionals and students."

It is the world’s fifth most popular website, with half a billion people accessing it and its sister Wikimedia sites every month.