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Fitness trackers help assess quality of life, daily functioning during treatment: study

Xinhua | Updated: 2018-07-25 11:32

Fitness trackers, also known as wearable activity monitors, can be valuable tools for assessing the quality of life and daily functioning of cancer patients during treatment, a new study has found.

"One of the challenges in treating patients with advanced cancer is obtaining ongoing, timely, objective data about their physical status during therapy," Andrew Hendifar, the study's first author and medical director for pancreatic cancer at the Cedars-Sinai Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute, said in a press release on Tuesday.

"After all, patients typically spend most of their time at home or work, not in a clinic, and their health statuses change from day to day."

The study, published online in the journal npj Digital Medicine, focused on 37 patients undergoing treatment for advanced cancer at Cedars-Sinai.

The patients wore wrist-mounted fitness trackers throughout the study except when showering or swimming. Sets of activity data were collected for three consecutive visits during treatment. After the final clinical visit, patients were followed for six months to gather additional clinical and survival outcomes.

Researchers then compared data from the trackers with patients' assessments of their own symptoms, including pain, fatigue and sleep quality, as collected from a US National Institutes of Health questionnaire.

Results suggested that data gathered through advancements in technology has the potential to help physicians measure the impact of a particular treatment on a patient's daily functioning.

"Furthermore, continuous activity monitoring may help predict and monitor treatment complications and allow for more timely and appropriate interventions," Gresham said.

Next, researchers plan to study long-term use of the monitors in a larger, more diverse group of advanced cancer patients and correlate that data with clinical and self-reported outcomes.

"We are at the beginning of a revolution in healthcare in which digital wearables, coupled with broadband telecommunication, will allow remote monitoring of cancer patients and anticipate the need for intervention before symptoms occur," said Dan Theodorescu, director of the cancer institute.

"This type of work has the potential to tailor our standard follow-up regimens for cancer to each patient, offering truly 'precision follow-up' that is better for patients, providers and society."

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