Cancers patients should speak up about any side-effects or complications they are experiencing without waiting for their next appointment. A study being done to research this has instructed cancer patients to use their come computers to report any symptoms they may be experiencing. It actually showed that reporting complications immediately has improved survival rates by almost half a year.
The research team has provided the patients with an online tool that was easy enough to use to report complications instead of waiting until their doctor asks about it. The goal of the study was to improve the quality of life but it has actually also improved survival.
It seems that the patients were able to stick with the treatment longer than usual because the side effects were quickly dealt with. It is not a good thing to assume that side-effects and complications are a part of cancer treatment, according to Dr. Richard Schilsky, chief medical officer of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
Earlier studies have shown that doctors actually miss about a half of their patients’ symptoms because they are not reported quickly enough or patients don’t necessarily think that a symptom is connected to cancer.
This study tried to test whether the online tool could be helpful in addressing those issues. The group of patients that were given the online tool was instructed to report their symptoms at least once a week. If they had a problem then they should report it immediately. They were also given a list of common side-effects such as appetite loss, constipation, cough, fatigue, hot flashes, diarrhea, shortness of breath, nausea or pain.
The group that had the online reporting tool ended up having an improved quality of life and the also had fewer visits to the emergency. They were also able to stay on treatment longer – 8 months as opposed to 6 months that was the average.
When it comes to survival rates, the group with the online tool had a median survival of 31 months, which is 5 months longer than the group that was treated without the online tool.
This online reporting system is now planning on being tested nationwide through a much larger study.