From the blog

Mesothelioma Symptom Management Tool Links Doctors and Patients with a Smartphone

Published: November 20, 2020

A study looking at a system that connects doctors and patients with a smartphone is showing that it could make the management of mesothelioma symptoms easier. Mesothelioma is a fast growing and aggressive cancer that has many different physical symptoms. Researchers in the United Kingdom are looking at a mesothelioma specific symptom management system. The study found that patients had a better experience working with doctors when they had easy access to them.

Pleural mesothelioma is a deadly cancer of the pleura (mesothelium that surrounds the lungs) that is caused by asbestos exposure. Survival rates are not good for the cancer and people diagnosed with it can have very uncomfortable symptoms. Patients have to deal with discomfort from pleural effusions, shortness of breath, chest pain, and coughing. Patients also have to deal with weight loss, fatigue, and muscle weakness. Since mesothelioma is so aggressive, symptoms and prognosis can change from visit to visit, making a remote symptom management important in treating patients.

The study looked at the Advanced Symptom Management System (ASyMS), which is a management system that has been used to track other types of cancer. It was modified to help track mesothelioma symptoms from a patient’s smartphone and was renamed ASyMSmeso. The study involved 18 mesothelioma patients who were asked to take assessments about how they were feeling. They used three already available assessment tools and completed a symptom questionnaire every day which was sent to their doctors. After the study was over, 11 health professionals, eight patients, and three caregivers were interviewed. Almost all the patients took the assessments and 88.5 percent of the patients participated in the daily symptom checks. The system made the patients feel more comfortable and gave them reassurance about the different symptoms they were having. It also made the patients feel like they were listened to by their doctors. The doctors said they felt they could give better care to patients when they were in frequent contact with them.

The researchers were able to conclude that remotely monitoring mesothelioma symptoms was feasible and acceptable. They are calling for more trials to test systems like ASyMSmeso so mesothelioma patients can be supported at home. The results of this test are very timely with the world struggling with COVID-19. With people staying home and wanting to avoid hospitals, the monitoring system could help doctors communicate with their patients remotely. The pandemic is changing how we do things, and mesothelioma care is no exception. Mesothelioma patients are at risk of having worse and even fatal responses when contracting COVID-19 so remote care could be a better option to protect mesothelioma patients while the pandemic continues.

Roma Maguire et al., “Advanced Symptom Management System for Patients with Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma (ASyMSmeso): Mixed Methods Study” JMIR Publications (November, 2020). [Link]
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