Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Helping patients navigate new cancer drugs

Date:
January 10, 2013
Source:
Michigan State University
Summary:
As cancer treatment in pill form transforms how care is delivered, a new study underscores the challenges patients face in administering their own chemotherapy outside the supervised environment of a cancer clinic.

Some oral chemotherapy drugs come with complex prescriptions that can be difficult for many patients to follow.
Credit: Photo by G.L. Kohuth

As cancer treatment in pill form transforms how care is delivered, a new Michigan State University study underscores the challenges patients face in administering their own chemotherapy outside the supervised environment of a cancer clinic.

Chemotherapy pills can target specific cancers better than some traditional intravenous drugs, said Sandra Spoelstra, the MSU assistant professor of nursing who led the study. But they also can be difficult for patients to take.

"Prescriptions for some oral pills have complex instructions," she said. "Some of them require patients to take pills several times a day or cycle their doses, taking one pill a day for three weeks, then stopping for a week before starting again. And some patients take two types of pills to treat their cancer or have multiple medications for other chronic conditions. It can be very complicated."

In addition, side effects such as severe nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, skin reactions and pain are common. Those symptoms can lead some patients to skip doses, which may render their cancer treatment ineffective.

During the study, published in the journal Cancer Nursing, more than 40 percent of participating patients took too many pills or missed doses with poor adherence more likely among those with complex treatment regimens.

The researchers randomly assigned the patients to one of three groups. Members of the first group only had help from an automated calling system, developed at MSU, to see if they were following their prescriptions and help them monitor and manage symptoms. The second group got the automated calls and follow-up calls from nurses with strategies for sticking to their pill regimen. The rest got automated calls and nurse advice on both adhering to their regimen and managing symptoms.

Patients in all three groups reported less severe symptoms at the end of the study. The automated calls were just as effective alone as when they were coupled with nurse guidance. That suggests the automated system could be a simple and inexpensive way to help some patients take their drugs properly, Spoelstra said.

The small study will be the springboard for more comprehensive research that may yield clearer lessons for health care professionals, said University Distinguished Professor Barbara Given, who co-authored the study and leads the College of Nursing's efforts to improve oral chemotherapy.

In the meantime, she said nurses should be attentive when explaining oral chemo regimens to be sure patients and their families understand how to take the drugs as prescribed.

"It's cutting-edge treatment, but we don't know enough about it yet," she said. "People think if they had a life-threatening disease and their doctor recommended treatment, they'd follow the recommendations. But it's really not that simple."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Sandra L. Spoelstra, Barbara A. Given, Charles W. Given, Marcia Grant, Alla Sikorskii, Mei You, Veronica Decker. An Intervention to Improve Adherence and Management of Symptoms for Patients Prescribed Oral Chemotherapy Agents. Cancer Nursing, 2013; 36 (1): 18 DOI: 10.1097/NCC.0b013e3182551587

Cite This Page:

Michigan State University. "Helping patients navigate new cancer drugs." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 January 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130110131005.htm>.
Michigan State University. (2013, January 10). Helping patients navigate new cancer drugs. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130110131005.htm
Michigan State University. "Helping patients navigate new cancer drugs." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130110131005.htm (accessed October 2, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) A new study says children born less than one year and more than five years after a sibling can have an increased risk for autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robotic Hair Restoration

Robotic Hair Restoration

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A new robotic procedure is changing the way we transplant hair. The ARTAS robot leaves no linear scarring and provides more natural results. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Insertable Cardiac Monitor

Insertable Cardiac Monitor

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A heart monitor the size of a paperclip that can save your life. The “Reveal Linq” allows a doctor to monitor patients with A-Fib on a continuous basis for up to 3 years! Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Attacking Superbugs

Attacking Superbugs

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) Two weapons hospitals can use to attack superbugs. Scientists in Ireland created a new gel resistant to superbugs, and a robot that can disinfect a room in minutes. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins