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Mobile phones to aid cancer care in young

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A specially adapted mobile phone could help young patients with cancer home-manage the side-effects of chemotherapy, say researchers.

The Advanced Symptom Management System for Young People (ASyMS-YG) – which has a touch screen and stylus similar to a Blackberry – is to be piloted at six UK cancer centres, including The Royal Marsden Hospital in London and St James’s Hospital in Leeds.

Following chemotherapy, patients use the device to remotely report symptoms. The information is transmitted to a hospital server to be viewed by nurses. The device offers advice via a text message but if symptoms are serious it triggers an alert so a cancer nurse contacts the patient.

Faith Gibson, senior lecturer in Children’s Cancer Nursing Research at University College London’s Institute of Child Health, who developed the device, said she hoped it would be rolled out across the UK.

‘Chemotherapy for cancer can cause many unpleasant, distressing and sometimes life-threatening side-effects which can have a huge impact on a young person’s life,’ she told delegates last week at the International Conference on Teenage and Young Adult Cancer Medicine in London.

‘The ASyMS-YG could revolutionise their care, giving them support and confidence to manage their symptoms, as well as giving clinical teams valuable information on a day-to-day basis about the way the patient has reacted to their treatment,’ she said.

Jeanette Hawkins, lead cancer nurse at the Birmingham Children’s Hospital, added: ‘We know that teens tend to under-report their symptoms and can often become quite poorly before they tell anyone. However, technology is not for everyone and circumstances must be assessed on an individual basis. It should not be used to replace good practice but to add to it.’

The UK trials, involving 150 patients over 30 months, are due to start this September.

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