It turns out technology can help. A new study found that patients who
tracked their symptoms with an app generally had a higher quality of life
and were more likely to live longer.
Ethan Basch, a medical oncologist and health researcher at the University
of North Carolina Lineberger Cancer Center in Chapel Hill, published the
findings in a research letter in the July 11, 2017, Journal of the American
Medical Association. The study enrolled 766 patients at Memorial Sloan
Kettering Cancer Center in New York City who were being treated with
chemotherapy for metastatic breast, lung, genitourinary or gynecologic
cancers. The patients were divided into two groups. One group followed
the usual practice of reporting symptoms to their doctors at office visits and
calling the office if symptoms arose between visits. The other group used
the app, which had them rate the severity of 12 symptoms they might experience during treatment, such as nausea, pain and loss of appetite. When
patients used the app, nurses received alerts about their symptoms.
The study found that patients who used the app lived about five months
longer than those who followed traditional reporting measures. Previous
studies found that patients using the app had a better quality of life, could
stay on chemotherapy longer and visited the emergency department less
frequently than those who reported their symptoms traditionally.
The study found that the app was, in some cases, as beneficial in extending survival as some cancer drugs. Basch says while he was initially
surprised that the app could have that effect, “it does make a lot of sense.
If you focus on people’s health status and their symptoms, you’re going to
improve their cancer outcomes.”
Some cancer centers are already using apps similar to the one Basch
studied. At the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center
Side Effects Benefits
QUICK RESPONSE TO SYMPTOMS IMPROVES
QUALITY OF LIFE AND SURVIVAL
When cancer patients are treated with chemotherapy, side effects are common, and it can be difficult o keep track of when symptoms develop or to
describe them to care providers. It can also be tricky to decide
if or when to make an urgent appointment or head to the
Tumor Profiling May Help Direct Glioblastoma Treatment
Few effective treatments exist for glioblastoma, an aggressive type of brain cancer.
Researchers recently used genome sequencing to find molecules that might respond to a
targeted therapy in patients with recurrent glioblastoma. The genome sequencing identified
potential treatments for 15 out of 16 patients whose tumors were analyzed. Seven of the
patients were treated with—and two responded to—a therapy that the analysis suggested
might help slow tumor growth.
LEARN MORE IN THE DECEMBER 2017 CLINICAL CANCER RESEARCH.
Anal Cancer Survival Rates Lowest in Black Men
A review of 7,882 anal cancer patients in the
national Surveillance, Epidemiology and End
Results (SEER) Program database found the
median overall survival for white women was
148 months compared to 82 months for black
men. The study also found black patients were
less likely to be treated with radiation, which
could be contributing, in part, to the disparity.
Infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV) or
the HIV virus increases anal cancer risk.
LEARN MORE IN THE AUGUST 2017 JOURNAL OF THE
NATIONAL COMPREHENSIVE CANCER NE TWORK.