Phones help patients in cancer care

In today’s time, staying without a phone is almost an impossible task. Having said that, a doctor from Tata Memorial Hospital has recently published an innovative research in the latest edition of the South Asian Journal of Cancer, only to find that there were several benefits which the Smartphones could offer their patients, post-treatment

Oral cancer is one of the most common cancers among Indian men. In India, every year 1 Lakh new Mouth Cancers are newly diagnosed. Unfortunately, 50% of these newly diagnosed Cancers Die within 12 month of Diagnosis.

Most of the Sufferers of Mouth Cancer are Tobacco users, who usually are illiterate and economically deprived. With these facts in mind and Geographical Diversity, Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, along with his team members in Tata Memorial Hospital, tested The Utility of Short Messaging Service (SMS) in Promoting Self-Examination of mouth in High Risk Population.

“We wanted to find a Low Cost Alternative to this Cost/Time Intense Methodology and save inconvenience to patients and their relatives.  We evaluated the effect of SMS Reminders on the Compliance of Oral Cancer patients for Mouth Self-Examination after finishing their treatment at Tata Memorial Hospital,” said Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, the head of the team who conducted the research.

Results –

  • 206 Patients were included in the study.
  • The Team Received 73.6% responses to the Messages.
  • 62.9% Patients responded to the SMS, and also came for regular follow up with the doctor.
  • 82% of respondents correctly labelled them as normal, after self-examination and confirmed by the medical examination.
  • None of the patients, who labelled themselves as normal, were found to have Disease by Clinician.
  • Sensitivity for mouth Self-Examination was found to be 100% and its specificity was 82.85%.

“We found that SMS reminders do improve Motivation and Compliance of towards mouth self-examination. Education level was found to affect the compliance of the patients to mouth self-examination and for responding to SMS,” added Dr Chaturvedi.

Mouth self-examination can help in identification of lesions suspicious for malignancy. Patients can be reminded via SMS about doing the examination. This is of practical importance in a country like India where patients travel long distances for getting good cancer care.