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Online Patient Reports Track Chemotherapy Toxicity


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Online Patient Reports Track Chemotherapy Toxicity

By David Douglas

NEW YORK DEC 19, 2007 (Reuters Health) - Online patient reports of episodes of toxic symptoms from chemotherapy for lung cancer appear to be an effective and rapid means of gathering this information, researchers report in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

"These results are important because they show the feasibility of a new approach for detecting symptoms and side effects during cancer care, which is likely better than the current method," lead investigator Dr. Ethan Basch told Reuters Health.

Basch, of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, and colleagues studied 107 lung cancer outpatients who were given a 10-minute training session on use of the Web-based system.

The patients then used an adaptation of a system used in the clinical trials of new cancer treatments, sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, to report symptoms such as loss of appetite, vomiting, cough and shortness of breath.

The reports could be made on home computers or on computers set up in waiting areas. Patients were reminded, but were not required, to log-in during clinic visits. The overall average adherence rate was 78 percent.

Ninety percent of the respondents found the system useful and 98 percent found it easy to use, but only 51 percent thought that communication was improved.

During the study, which patients participated in for an average of 42 weeks, 179 alerts were triggered by severe or disabling toxicity symptoms reported by 57 patients.

The approach "may improve our ability to detect symptoms earlier before they become severe, and hence avoid potential problems," continued Basch.

It could also "actually improve the efficiency of conducting trials, because patients would be reporting symptom data directly without clinicians and data managers as intermediaries to interpret and report this information."


Journal of Clinical Oncology. December 1, 2007

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