Giving patients with cancer the ability to report side effects from chemotherapy right away using an online reporting tool helps them live longer.
Researchers at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City randomized 766 patients undergoing chemotherapy for solid tumors to receive either standard care or standard care with patient-reported outcomes (PRO). The latter involved patients self-reporting 12 common chemotherapy side effects – such as constipation, nausea and pain – using a web-based questionnaire both during and in between visits.
When a patient in the latter group reported a symptom that was severe or worsening, an email was sent to a nurse and a report regarding the patient’s symptom history was provided to an oncologist before the next appointment.
Patients in the PRO group had a median overall survival of 5 months longer compared to those just receiving usual care, the researchers reported in JAMA.
Possible reasons for the improved survival in the PRO group, according to researchers, are that clinicians were able to respond to side effects more rapidly in the PRO group, avoiding further problems down the line; nurses were able to intervene with counseling, dose modification or other medications; and patients were able to stay on chemotherapy longer.
A larger trial is underway with 1,000 patients undergoing oncology treatment across the country. The reporting tool being used works on smartphones.