News in brief: Remote monitoring reduces chemo side effect burden; Young cancer survivors worse off; Crucial information for multicultural communities about COVID-19 vaccines and cancer

Thursday, 29 Jul 2021

Real time remote monitoring of chemo adverse effects reduces symptom burden

Remote monitoring of symptoms associated with chemotherapy toxicities appears to reduce the symptom burden in cancer patients by facilitating timely access to care.

A European study across five countries randomised 829 adult patients to either remote monitoring via the Advanced Symptom Management System (ASyMS) or usual care.

Patients using ASyMS upload a Daily Chemotherapy Toxicity Self-Assessment Questionnaire (DCTAQ) and body temperature to the server which applies an algorithm for symptom alerts to clinicians and a symptom management protocol.

The study found symptom burden as measured on the Memorial Symptom Assessment Scale (MSAS) remained at pre-chemotherapy treatment levels in the intervention group but increased with treatment in the usual care group.

Health-related quality of life was also higher in the intervention group than the control group across six cycles of chemotherapy.

“Our findings suggest that benefits of remote monitoring begin within the first three cycles of treatment and are sustained over time, indicating that systems such as ASyMS should be implemented at the start of treatment,” the study said.

“The ultimate vision is to have a multimodal seamless system of remote symptom monitoring used from the start of treatment and through survivorship.”


Young cancer survivors worse off despite better health behaviours

Adolescent and young adult cancer survivors can struggle with fatigue and reduced health-related quality of life, despite exhibiting better health behaviours than the average Australian, according to a new study.

Published in Pediatric Blood & Cancer, the study compared long-term health behaviours and wellbeing in 90 15–25-year-old cancer survivors from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre who were 5 years off treatment, with normative data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ 2017/2018 National Health Survey.

It found that cancer survivors were more likely to eat the recommended daily serves of fruit and vegetables, have a lower or normal BMI and be non-smokers versus normative data. No significant differences in physical activity or alcohol intake were observed between cohorts, though the proportion of survivors meeting diet and exercise guidelines was still low, the authors wrote.

Cancer survivors reported increased fatigue, reduced health-related quality of life and often suffered from one or more chronic health conditions.

Future research should investigate more targeted lifestyle interventions that promote better long-term health behaviours and improve survivors’ outcomes, the authors said.

Crucial information for multicultural communities about COVID-19 vaccines and cancer

Cancer Australia has released Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about COVID-19 vaccines and cancer translated into 10 languages.

Based on input and queries from the cancer community, FAQs have been developed for Arabic, Chinese – Simplified, Chinese – Traditional, Greek, Hindi, Italian, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese.

The FAQs address when and where people with cancer can get vaccinated: the safety, efficacy and any risks of the vaccines; if the vaccine may impact their cancer treatment; and how information will be collected about the vaccines in people affected by cancer.

People with cancer aged 16 and over fit into the priority group “People with an underlying medical condition” and are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine free as part of the Australian Government’s COVID-19 vaccine national roll-out strategy.

“The current COVID-19 outbreak in Australia highlights the need for accessible information about vaccines for people with cancer who are more vulnerable to contracting COVID-19 and are at an increased risk of more severe infection,” said Professor Dorothy Keefe, CEO Cancer Australia.

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