OncoLink: Past, Present, and Future of Oncology Education

Last Reviewed: February 26, 2024

30th Anniversary Celebration

In celebration of our 30th anniversary in 2024, we sat down with a few OncoLink pioneers to hear about the past and the vision for the future.

An Interview with OncoLink’s Founder, Joel Goldwein, MD


OncoLink History: An Interview with OncoLink's Innovation Director, Carolyn Vachani


An Interview with Maggie Hampshire, OncoLink's First and Longest Employee!


An Interview with OncoLink's Executive Director, James Metz, MD


Thirty Years of Innovation and Education

In March of 1994, Dr. Joel Goldwein launched OncoLink, the first cancer information site on the Internet, from his office at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Goldwein thought OncoLink would be a good way for physicians to share information. Little did he know that this would become one of the most trusted sources of cancer information for patients, families, and healthcare professionals. Let’s look back at how far we’ve come!

In January of 1994, there were only 30,000 domains on the Internet – compared with over 600 million today.  OncoLink started as a source of links to cancer information on the web, before Google, or any browser for that matter!  It was an easy way to connect to cancer information at a time when the only way to get this information was by going to a library. Not long after its inception, the team of doctors and nurses involved started writing their own content and today OncoLink houses several thousand articles. This soon expanded to include conference coverage – physicians reporting from professional meetings so colleagues around the globe could hear about the latest research the day it was presented even if they could not attend the meeting.

The OncoLink homepage in 1996

Over the next few years, the OncoLink team expanded to include content written by many disciplines, including nursing, dieticians, physical and occupational therapists, social workers, and more. This multidisciplinary approach allows OncoLink to cover the many areas a patient may be interested in learning about, such as treatment information, side effect management, nutrition, and complementary therapies. 

OncoLink is run by a small staff. We rely on the generosity and commitment of hundreds of volunteer clinicians and survivors who believe in our mission and give their time and expertise to develop and review content. It is this group that sets OncoLink apart from other sites. The information is provided by people who work with patients every day, or have been there themselves. They know what people need at every stage of the cancer journey.

Our team likes to dream big - think about things outside the usual healthcare box – and put those ideas into motion. This attitude has allowed us to experience a few online “firsts”:

  • First website to provide same-day reporting from professional meetings for physicians.
  • First to use an online, IRB approved, electronic consent form for a study.
  • First major US-based, online cancer resource translated into Spanish.
  • First website to have a clinical trials matching program, in collaboration with Emerging Med.
  • First to develop a personalized Cancer Survivorship Care Plan program.
  • First to develop a cancer risk assessment tool encompassing all cancers.

Technology continues to progress and provides new opportunities to provide cancer education in innovative ways!  

Many of our users are nurses seeking patient education tools and information for their patients. The treatment binder builder allows care providers to quickly create an educational booklet tailored to the needs of their specific patient. OncoPilot helps new patients navigate the cancer journey and keep track of appointments, medications, and more. Our medication teaching sheets are used by nurses all over the world! Our OncoLife and Smart ALACC survivorship care plan builders have been used to create over 120,000 care plans to date.

In 2024 we are celebrating thirty years of education, empowerment, and innovation! This is committed to continuing to improve the experience of cancer patients and caregivers by empowering them with reliable information.  Happy Anniversary OncoLink – here's to many more years!

Photo of the OncoLink team

The OncoLink team in March 2024.



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