Screen shot 2010-01-18 at 6.34.42 PMNavigating Cancer, an organization dedicated to helping cancer patients find the best treatment options, has just launched a new, free web site to help its target audience keep track of their medical records, work more closely with their physicians and find other patients going through the same thing. The idea is to give users the information they need to take charge of their health.

The web site, in its beta version, offers all of these resources — including encyclopedic information on cancer and related topics — for free. Often, as part of people’s treatment plans, physicians will provide them with contacts who have battled cancer in the past. Hearing first-hand experiences from someone else has proved very therapeutic in the recovery process. Navigating Cancer aims to make it even easier to forge these connections via forums on its site. Peer organizations like the Caring for Carcinoid FoundationCancer Lifeline and Prostate NET will be running group discussions on the site.

Armed with knowledge from reputable sources like the National Cancer Institute — not regular WebMD or other, more casual sites — patients will have the ability to ask their doctors more informed questions, and inquire about a full range of options so they can make sure they are getting the best care for their specific needs, the organization says.

The other major aspect of the web site, the ability to create and save detailed medical records, fits into the trend toward a more digital medical system. Just as President Barack Obama urges the need for electronic medical records, Navigating Cancer and others are allowing patients to easily keep tabs on their own health data and development.

The Navigating Cancer site lets users enter basic health information, prescriptions, doctors appointments and more so that nothing will go forgotten. On top of that, it includes a Daily Health Tracker that patients can use to record their symptoms and any treatment side effects on a day-to-day basis. All of this information could come in handy at their next doctor’s appointment. Navigating Cancer says that all of this information is kept extremely secure.

The next step is to allow patients and physicians to securely share this information on the internet. That way, doctors can keep an eye on patients and any treatment irregularities without constant checkups. Navigating Cancer is working on integrating these features soon.