Breast Cancer Care launches Alexa tool to help women spot key signs

Breast Cancer Care (BCC) has launched a virtual tool on Amazon’s Alexa which shares information on the signs and symptoms of breast cancer | via Digital Health

The tool can help guide women through a breast check and highlight the eight most common signs and symptoms of breast cancer to look out for.

Addie Mitchell, clinical nurse specialist at BCC, told Digital Health News that she hoped the digital tool would help give women more confidence to check for breast cancer. She said: “It gives them the confidence and assurance of being able to check in their own home. Checking for symptoms of breast cancer can cause a lot of anxiety as they don’t know what to look for, but the Alexa tool can help by listing the eight common ones.”

Mitchell added that the Alexa tool will also prompt users who may think they have one or more of the symptoms to get it checked out by their GP.

Full story at Digital Health

Social media boost for breast screening

More women attend for breast screening thanks to success of digital inclusion project | NHS Digital

An NHS project using social media to improve health by boosting digital inclusion has led to a 13 per cent increase in first time attendances for breast screening in Stoke-on-Trent over four years.

The local initiative saw information about screening posted on Facebook community groups, which empowered and enabled women to make appointments by reducing their anxiety around breast examinations. It also allowed them to communicate quickly and easily with health practitioners to ask questions about the screening process.

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Through this project, the North Midlands Breast Screening Service promoted their Facebook page on local community groups which their target group – women aged over 50 – regularly visited.

The screening team posted information such as patients explaining about how the screening process works and how it has affected them, and videos showing the rooms where it takes place. Posts were designed to encourage women to share them and so spread the message about the benefits and importance of screening.

The service’s Facebook page also answered questions in the group and by direct messaging, enabling women to book appointments more easily.

Full detail: More women attend for breast screening thanks to success of digital inclusion project | NHS Digital

See also: Social media could help raise breast screening take-up | OnMedica

Cancer app developed by GPs being trialled by CCGs

A GP-developed app aiming to help GPs navigate the tests and urgent referrals necessary for patients presenting with cancer symptoms is being trialled by two CCGs | Pulse

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C the Signs was co-founded by newly qualified GP Dr Bhavagaya Bakshi and fellow doctor Miles Payling and quickly checks symptoms of more than 200 cancers against multiple diagnostic referral pathways.

Last week the app won the People’s award at the Tech4Good awards and is now set to be trialled with GPs in the East of England to test its real world cost and clinical effectiveness.

Read the full news story here

Computer-tailored physical activity intervention for prostate and colorectal cancer patients and survivors

Cancer and cancer treatment coincide with substantial negative physical, psychological and psychosocial problems | BMC Cancer

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Background: Physical activity (PA) can positively affect the negative effects of cancer and cancer treatment and thereby increase quality of life in CPS. Nevertheless, only a minority of CPS meet PA guidelines. We developed the OncoActive (OncoActief in Dutch) intervention: a computer-tailored PA program to stimulate PA in prostate and colorectal CPS, because to our knowledge there are only a few PA interventions for these specific cancer types in the Netherlands

Discussion: Using the Intervention Mapping protocol resulted in a systematically adapted, theory and evidence-based intervention providing tailored PA advice to prostate and colorectal CPS. If the intervention turns out to be effective in increasing PA, as evaluated in a RCT, possibilities for nationwide implementation and extension to other cancer types will be explored.

Full reference: Golsteijn, R.H.J. et al. (2017) Development of a computer-tailored physical activity intervention for prostate and colorectal cancer patients and survivors: OncoActive. BMC Cancer. 17:446

Breast cancer e-support program vs routine care

Zhu, J. et al. (2017) BMC Cancer. 17:291

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Background: Women with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy suffer from a number of symptoms and report receiving inadequate support from health care professionals. Innovative and easily accessible interventions are lacking. Breast Cancer e-Support is a mobile Application program (App) that provides patients with individually tailored information and a support group of peers and health care professionals. Breast Cancer e-Support aims to promote women’s self-efficacy, social support and symptom management, thus improving their quality of life and psychological well-being.

Discussion: This is the first study of its kind in China to evaluate the use of a mobile application intervention with a rigorous research design and theoretical framework. This study will contribute to evidence regarding the effectiveness of a theory-based mobile application to support women with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy. The results should provide a better understanding of the role of self-efficacy and social support in reducing symptom distress and of the credibility of using a theoretical framework to develop internet-based interventions. The results will provide evidence to support the implementation of an innovative and easily accessible intervention that enhances health outcomes.

Read the full protocol here

7 innovative bits of research tech our Cancer Research U are developing

Today is Innovation Day, so CRUK are taking a look at some of the cutting edge technologies that their researchers are using in their efforts to understand and treat cancer | CRUK

  • iKnife: an ‘intelligent knife’ to spot cancerous tissue during surgery
  • Blood tests to monitor and personalise treatment
  • Nanobubbles to re-oxygenate tumours
  • Gold nanoparticles
  • Infra-red endoscopes to detect cancer earlier
  • Gene editing to boost immunotherapies
  • New imaging technologies

Read the full blog post here

Computer modeling could lead to new method for detecting, managing prostate cancer

Guillermo Lorenzo et. al. Tissue-scale, personalized modeling and simulation of prostate cancer growth. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2016; 201615791 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1615791113

New research coauthored by Brigham Young University researchers may lead to a more accurate system for early detection, diagnosis, and treatment of prostate cancer.

The new study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, details a computer model that uses medical images to reproduce the growth patterns of prostate cancer on the anatomy of a patient’s prostate.

This type of mathematical modelling and simulation of disease (aka predictive medicine) can lead to personalised treatment and more accurate forecasting of clinical outcomes.

Current diagnosis methods include invasive biopsy procedures which too often lead to patients being over-treated or under-treated. Complicating matters is the fact that prostate cancer can remain undiagnosed because early stages of the disease may not produce symptoms until a tumour is either very large or has invaded other tissues.

The new system could lead to both earlier diagnosis and less invasive testing.

Full document available here