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

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Protocol: mHealth innovation for early detection of patient-reported symptom distress

Cancer patients are predominantly treated as out-patients and as they often experience difficult symptoms and side effects it is important to facilitate and improve patient-clinician communication to support symptom management and self-care | BMC Cancer

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Background: Although the number of projects within supportive cancer care evaluating mobile health is increasing, few evidence-based interventions are described in the literature and thus there is a need for good quality clinical studies with a randomised design and sufficient power to guide future implementations. An interactive information and communications technology platform, including a smartphone/computer tablet app for reporting symptoms during cancer treatment was created in collaboration with a company specialising in health care management. The aim of this paper is to evaluate the effects of using the platform for patients with breast cancer during neo adjuvant chemotherapy treatment and patients with locally advanced prostate cancer during curative radiotherapy treatment. The main hypothesis is that the use of the platform will improve clinical management, reduce costs, and promote safe and participatory care.

Method: The study is a prospective, randomised, controlled trial for each patient group and it is based on repeated measurements. Patients are consecutively included and randomised. The intervention groups report symptoms via the app daily, during treatment and up to three weeks after end of treatment, as a complement to standard care. Patients in the control groups receive standard care alone. Outcomes targeted are symptom burden, quality of life, health literacy (capacity to understand and communicate health needs and promote healthy behaviours), disease progress and health care costs. Data will be collected before and after treatment by questionnaires, registers, medical records and biomarkers. Lastly, participants will be interviewed about participatory and meaningful care.

Discussion: Results will generate knowledge to enhance understanding about how to develop person-centred care using mobile technology. Supporting patients’ involvement in their care to identify problems early, promotes more timely initiation of necessary treatment. This can benefit patients treated outside the hospital setting in regard to maintaining their safety.

Full reference: Langius-Eklöf, A. et al. (2017) Effects of an interactive mHealth innovation for early detection of patient-reported symptom distress with focus on participatory care: protocol for a study based on prospective, randomised, controlled trials in patients with prostate and breast cancer. BMC Cancer. 17:466

Web-based stress management for newly diagnosed cancer patients (STREAM-1)

Grossert, A. et al. BMC Cancer. Published online: 3 November 2016

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Background: Being diagnosed with cancer causes major psychological distress, yet the majority of newly diagnosed cancer patients lack psychological support. Internet interventions overcome many barriers for seeking face-to-face support and allow for independence in time and place. We assess efficacy and feasibility of the first web-based stress management intervention (STREAM: STREss-Aktiv-Mindern) for newly diagnosed, German-speaking cancer patients.

Methods/design: In a prospective, wait-list controlled trial 120 newly diagnosed cancer patients will be included within 12 weeks of starting anti-cancer treatment and randomized between an immediate (intervention group) or delayed (control group) 8-week, web-based intervention. The intervention consists of eight modules with weekly written feedback by a psychologist (“minimal-contact”) based on well-established stress management manuals including downloadable audio-files and exercises. The aim of this study is to evaluate efficacy in terms of improvement in quality of life (FACT-F), as well as decrease in anxiety and depression (HADS), as compared to patients in the wait-list control group. A sample size of 120 patients allows demonstrating a clinically relevant difference of nine points in the FACT score after the intervention (T2) with a two-sided alpha of 0.05 and 80 % power. As this is the first online stress management intervention for German-speaking cancer patients, more descriptive outcomes are equally important to further refine the group of patients with the largest potential for benefit who then will be targeted more specifically in future trials. These descriptive endpoints include: patients’ characteristics (type of cancer, type of treatment, socio-demographic factors), dropout rate and dropout reasons, adherence and satisfaction with the program.

Discussion: New technologies open new opportunities: minimal-contact psychological interventions are becoming standard of care in several psychological disorders, where their efficacy is often comparable to face-to-face interventions. With our study we open this field to the population of newly diagnosed cancer patients. We will not only assess clinical efficacy but also further refine the target population who has the most potential to benefit. An internet-based minimal-contact stress management program might be an attractive, time- and cost-effective way to effectively deliver psychological support to newly diagnosed cancer patients and an opportunity to include those who currently are not reached by conventional support.

Read the full article here

Nurse-led telephone triage for people with suspected colorectal cancer

Crisford, M. et al. 2016. Cancer Nursing Practice. 15 (1) pp.18-25.

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Image source: Carsten Knoch

The two-week rule was introduced to address delays in cancer diagnosis. It requires patients with suspected cancer to be seen by a specialist within two weeks of GP referral and has implications for colorectal departments in terms of managing demands on service provision.

In one NHS trust it was addressed by introducing a nurse-led telephone triage assessment to determine patients’ suitability for investigations before attending outpatient clinic. The assessment was developed by a Delphi survey. An audit evaluated whether time from referral to investigation had reduced since introduction of the assessment.

Data were collected retrospectively from 40 patients before its introduction and compared with 40 patients after its introduction. Time to investigation was reduced in the telephone assessment group: a mean of 12.5 days versus 21.2 days, with a mean difference of -8.7 days.

Introduction of telephone assessment reduced time from GP referral to investigation and enabled earlier detection of cancer in line with healthcare policy.

Read the abstract here