A new study shows a system that connects doctors and patients via smartphone may make it easier to manage mesothelioma symptoms.
Mesothelioma tumors grow quickly on the membrane around the lungs. Mesothelioma patients tend to have many physical symptoms.
Researchers in the UK tested a mesothelioma-specific version of a symptom management system. Their study shows patients felt better with easier access to a doctor to help them manage mesothelioma symptoms.
Symptoms of Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma
Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of asbestos cancer. As tumors grow, the pleural membrane becomes less pliable. This makes it harder for the lungs to expand. The space around the lungs can also fill up with fluid (pleural effusions) as the body tries to fight the mesothelioma.
As a result, most patients have to manage mesothelioma symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, or cough. Other common symptoms are weight loss, fatigue, and muscle weakness.
Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer. A patient’s status can change a lot between trips to the doctor. This is especially true for patients who live far away from their doctor or hospital. Researchers at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow say doctors and patients need a better way to manage mesothelioma symptoms as they arise.
“Innovations such as remote symptom monitoring are needed to enable patients to maintain wellbeing and manage symptoms in a proactive and timely manner,” writes study author Roma Maguire.
Connecting Doctors and Patients
Maguire and her team based their study on the Advanced Symptom Management System (ASyMS). It has been used to successfully monitor other types of cancer. They adapted the system to help patients manage mesothelioma symptoms from their smartphones. They called the system ASyMSmeso.
The researchers asked eighteen mesothelioma patients to take assessments about how they felt. They used three existing assessment tools. Patients also completed a daily symptom questionnaire on their smartphones. The information went to their doctors.
“At the end of the study, semistructured interviews with 11 health professionals, 8 patients, and 3 carers were conducted to collect their experience with using ASyMSmeso,” writes Dr. Maguire.
Almost all patients took the assessments and 88.5 percent did the daily symptom checks. Both doctors and patients said the system made it quick and easy to manage mesothelioma symptoms.
“For patients, in particular, the system provided reassurance about symptom experience and the feeling of being listened to,” says Maguire. Doctors said they were more likely to be able to help patients when they were in close communication.
The researchers conclude that remote monitoring of mesothelioma symptoms is “feasible and acceptable”. They call for future trials on systems like ASyMSmeso to support mesothelioma patients at home.
Maguire, R, et al, “Advanced Symptom Management System for Patients with Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma (ASyMSmeso): Mixed Methods Study”, November 12, 2020, Journal of Medical Internet Research, https://www.jmir.org/2020/11/e19180