A five-year, $3.3 million grant to study symptom management in patients with head and neck cancer has been awarded to researchers from UTHealth Houston by the National Cancer Institute (1R01CA282149), part of the National Institutes of Health.
In 2023, the American Cancer Society estimates there will be about 54,540 new cases of head and neck cancer in the United States.
Treatment with various therapies can often be aggressive, resulting in substantial symptom burden for patients. Oftentimes, patient symptoms go undetected in electronic health records documentation. Janet Van Cleave, PhD, RN, associate professor in the Department of Research with Cizik School of Nursing at UTHealth Houston, is studying digital patient-reported symptom monitoring during cancer care, and the integration of the monitoring into electronic health records. She is also assessing how it is associated with improved symptom control, decreased acute care use, and better quality of life.
“Head and neck cancer is quite debilitating, and the treatment is intense,” Van Cleave said. “Completing treatment on time gives patients the best shot at a cure. Identifying patients with uncontrolled symptoms enables clinicians to make real-time interventions that prevent the need to halt treatment and reduce the risk of future disability.”
Van Cleave developed the project, Implementing the NYU Electronic Patient Visit Assessment (ePVA) for Head and Neck Cancer in Rural and Urban Populations, for head and neck cancer patients as a reliable clinical support tool for early detection of uncontrolled symptoms which will enable real-time interventions at the bedside.
The multicenter, two-arm, randomized study, which includes New York University, The University of Kansas Cancer Center, and Fox Chase Cancer Center, will recruit 270 patients in rural and urban settings. Researchers will focus on the effect of ePVA with patient symptoms and use of acute care by examining patient and clinician perspectives on facilitators and barriers to ePVA’s reach and integration.
““Symptoms are debilitating for the patient. With this system, all they have to do is lift a finger and report what they’re experiencing on a touchscreen tablet. This system is a tool where we can help these patients during and after their treatment,” Van Cleave said.
Other co-investigators on the study are Abraham A. Brody, PhD, with NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing; Kenneth S. Hu, MD, with NYU Grossman School of Medicine and NYU Perlmutter Cancer Center; Jessica Bauman, MD; Brian L. Egleston, PhD, both with Fox Chase Cancer Center; and Christopher E. Lominska, MD, with The University of Kansas Cancer Center.
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