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Symptom Reporting System May Help Monitor Chemo Toxicity

Patients can use computerized self-reporting system at clinic visits

FRIDAY, Nov. 30 (HealthDay News) -- A computerized system allowing lung cancer patients receiving chemotherapy to report their symptoms offers a promising method for monitoring chemotherapy toxicity, according to research published in the Dec. 1 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Ethan Basch, M.D., of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, and colleagues analyzed data from 107 lung cancer patients, most with metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer. Patients were given the opportunity to report toxicity symptoms on computers set up in clinic waiting areas, using a National Cancer Institute adverse event reporting instrument translated into patient language.

On average, 78 percent of patients logged in at clinic visits, with patients making an average of 12 visits. Although they showed some falloff after the first visit, their use of the system remained fairly stable afterward. Commonly reported toxicity symptoms were pain, shortness of breath and anorexia. Although all seven participating nurses found the reports clinically useful, only one discussed them with patients frequently, with insufficient time the most common barrier.

"As our understanding of the patient experience improves, we foresee a paradigm shift whereby more objective toxicities will continue to be tracked by professionals, but symptoms will be self-reported by patients, or reported both by patients and clinicians (e.g., PRO [patient-reported outcomes] with clinician review). Ultimately, when we inform patients about potential adverse effects of therapies, they may prefer to be presented with data based on the impressions of their peers," the authors conclude.

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