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Cancer Patients Live Longer With Web-Based, Self-Reporting

Many patients undergoing chemotherapy don’t routinely tell their health care team when they are experiencing side effects (which are sometimes severe). Now, a simple web-based intervention enables patients to report their symptoms in real time, triggering alerts to clinicians. It can have major benefits, including longer survival.

As published in The Journal of Clinical Oncology, performed a study comparing outcomes in patients receiving chemotherapy for metastatic solid tumors. Participants had several types of cancer, including genitourinary (32%), gynecologic (23%), breast (19%), and lung (26%). The authors randomly assigned participants to web-based symptom monitoring with patient-reported outcomes (PROs) or usual care. In a follow-up research letter, the authors presented the patients’ overall survival results. The researchers followed the 766 participants (median age of 61 years) for a median of 7 years, after which time 67% had died. Patients in the PRO group used the emergency less often, reported significant benefits in quality of life and patient satisfaction, and lived a median of 5 months longer than the control arm (31.2 vs. 26.0 months, P = 0.03).

Lead study author Ethan M. Basch, MD, MSc, FASCO, said the study showed that using a web-based, symptom-reporting system, which alerts the care team about problems, leads to actions that alleviate suffering and improve patient outcomes.

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