Leveraging Mobile Phones to Improve Cancer Care

For years, rumors have swirled about how mobile phones might cause cancer. Now, researchers at the University of Surrey in England are exploring how mobile phones can actually be used to improve cancer care. 

"Over 3 million people are diagnosed with cancer each year in Europe and it is likely that this number will increase by at least 65% over the next 20 years," said Nora Kearney, the principal investigator of the study and professor of cancer care at the University of Surrey.

"Given this predicted increase, the need for personalized cancer care is becoming even more crucial. Our system will give patients continual support both during and after chemotherapy, while allowing them to remain in the comfort of their own homes. It will revolutionize the way our healthcare system supports people with cancer."

Through the eSMART initiative, researchers will explore how breast, bowel and blood cancer patients can improve their care by tapping into the Advanced Symptom Management System (ASyMS).  The system enables patients to report the side effects from their chemotherapy via a mobile phone to a computer, which assesses their symptoms and triggers alerts to doctors or nurses within minutes if they require specialist intervention. The system also provides patients with real-time information and advice on how to manage their symptoms at home, without the need to travel to hospital.

"In many European countries, patients undergoing chemotherapy, experience great difficulties in coping with the adverse events and the anxiety during their therapy and between treatments," said Kathi Apostolidis, vice president of the European Cancer Patient Coalition (ECPC), one of the partners on the eSMART project. "Usually, patients with cancer are given instructions on how to cope with side effects, at the beginning of their treatment. However, in many European countries, it is not possible, or very difficult for patients to consult their oncologist or oncology nurse to discuss problems or concerns arising from their chemotherapy, outside pre-arranged medical appointments. ECPC believes that eSMART will be an urgently needed solution to get a quick response to the problems and anxiety that cancer patients face during chemotherapy."