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Cancer patients may benefit from reporting symptoms online in real time
Date:11/29/2007

NEW YORK, November 29, 2007 Traditionally, clinicians have relied on information provided by cancer patients during their office visits as the primary means of assessing patients symptoms and side effects. However, potentially serious consequences could arise if important symptoms go unreported during those visits because they occur between appointments.

A new study by researchers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) finds that even the sickest cancer patients are willing and able to self-report symptoms using the Internet, thus supplying key data in real time to their healthcare providers.

Published in the December 1, 2007, issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the study suggests a new direction in cancer care. According to the authors, supplementing traditional office visit discussions with online patient self-reporting can fill important gaps in clinicians knowledge and in doing so may significantly improve patient safety and quality of care.

Cancer care has become increasingly complex, causing office visits to become more compressed. This makes it challenging for the clinician to comprehensively assess each patients symptoms in that brief window of time, said the studys lead author, Ethan Basch, MD, a medical oncologist at MSKCC. Because cancer therapies can be highly toxic, early detection of symptoms and timely treatment is vital. What is exciting to us about online self-reporting is that patients can alert clinicians to crucial symptoms in real time.

The research team developed a Web-based system that patients in the study could access using computers in waiting-room kiosks and at home to communicate their symptoms directly to clinicians. Investigators adapted the National Cancer Institutes standard terminology for tracking patient toxicities in clinical trials and translated it into patient-friendly language. The new terms were uploaded to a secure Web site called Symptom Tracking and Reporting (STAR). Participants u
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Contact: Esther Napolitano
napolite@mskcc.org
212-639-3573
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert

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