New Tools for Doctors and Patients May Fill Care Gaps

CURE, Summer 2017, Volume 1, Issue 1

Oncologists and their patients don’t always get as much time to meet as they would like. Schedules are tight, appointments can be brief, and issues relevant to treatment and healing may be overlooked.

Oncologists and their patients don’t always get as much time to meet as they would like. Schedules are tight, appointments can be brief, and issues relevant to treatment and healing may be overlooked.

But what if doctors and patients had a new way to work together, between appointments, to monitor health status and boost healthy behaviors?

That’s the potential the oncology community sees in wearable fitness trackers, which can monitor a person’s activity level, sleep patterns, heart rate and diet. These devices may help patients and survivors to lose weight, which could reduce the risk for cancer recurrence, and by promoting physical activity, they may improve quality of life by boosting mood and decreasing fatigue. At the same time, the records kept by the devices may give doctors a clearer picture of how their patients are faring as they pursue their daily activities.

In this issue of CURE®, we explore the potential benefits of fitness trackers during and after cancer treatment, and discuss ongoing studies of the devices in patients who have the disease. We also caution that some recent research suggests trackers don’t always provide accurate information — a problem that will need to be rectified if wearables are to become a permanent and useful part of the cancer treatment toolbox.

Also this season, we’re proud to share with you the winning essay from our annual Extraordinary Healer® Award for Oncology Nursing, written by a peer about a nurse who goes above and beyond the call of duty to meet the needs of her patients. You’ll read about Sara Sargente, RN, OCN, who was named the winner during a ceremony in Denver, Colorado.

Elsewhere in the magazine, we share the latest details on the federal government’s Cancer Moonshot, which aims to push the scientific community to make a decade’s worth of progress in fighting the disease in half that time. The article tells the story of the development and rollout of the initiative from the perspective of an oncology nurse who was involved in the process.

On tap, as well, is an article about the latest research into a wide variety of treatments — including radiation, chemotherapy, targeted drugs, immunotherapies and viral therapies — for the difficult-to-treat brain cancer glioblastoma.

Finally, we offer information on changes in the health care system that are making it more responsive to the needs of sexual and gender minorities; a feature about people who cope with cancer by undertaking unusual or extreme activities; and an article on ways for patients and loved ones to work out disagreements about treatment decisions and goals.

We hope this issue of CURE® will give you valuable information about myriad issues in cancer care that, ultimately, will help you make well-considered, informed health decisions. As always, thank you for reading.

MIKE HENNESSY, SR.

Chairman and CEO