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App-Controlled Treatment Monitoring and Support for Patients With Head and Neck Cancer Undergoing Radiotherapy: Results From a Prospective Randomized Controlled Trial

J Med Internet Res. 2023 Oct 19;25:e46189. doi: 10.2196/46189.


BACKGROUND: Head and neck cancers (HNCs) are very common malignancies, and treatment often requires multimodal approaches, including radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Patients with HNC often display a high symptom burden, both due to the disease itself and the adverse effects of the multimodal therapy. Close telemonitoring of symptoms and quality of life during the course of treatment may help to identify those patients requiring early medical support.

OBJECTIVE: The App-Controlled Treatment Monitoring and Support for Patients With Head and Neck Cancer (APCOT) trial aimed to investigate the feasibility of integrating electronic patient-reported outcomes (ePROs) in the treatment surveillance pathway of patients with HNC during the course of their radiotherapy. Additionally, the influence of app-based ePRO monitoring on global and disease-specific quality of life and patient satisfaction with treatment was assessed.

METHODS: Patients undergoing radiotherapy for histologically proven HNCs at the Department of Radiation Oncology, University Medical Center Freiburg, Germany, were enrolled in this trial and monitored by weekly physician appointments. Patients were randomized between additional ePRO monitoring on each treatment day or standard-of-care monitoring. Feasibility of ePRO monitoring was defined as ≥80% of enrolled patients answering ≥80% of their daily app-based questions. Quality of life and patient satisfaction were assessed by the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer Core Quality of Life Questionnaire (QLQ-C30), the head and neck cancer module (H&N35), and the validated Patient Satisfaction Questionnaire Short Form (PSQ-18) at the completion of treatment and compared between trial arms.

RESULTS: A total of 100 patients were enrolled in this trial, and 93 patients were evaluable. All patients (100%) in the experimental arm answered ≥80% of the ePRO questions during treatment, reaching the predefined threshold for the feasibility of ePRO monitoring (P<.001 in the binomial test). No clinical or patient-specific factor was found to influence feasibility. Global health and most domains of the general quality of life were comparable between trial arms, but an increased HNC-specific symptom burden was reported by patients undergoing ePRO surveillance. ePRO monitoring resulted in improved patient satisfaction regarding interpersonal manners (P=.01), financial aspects (P=.01), and time spent with a doctor (P=.01).

CONCLUSIONS: This trial demonstrated the feasibility of incorporating daily app-based ePRO surveillance for patients with HNC undergoing radiotherapy. Our data, for the first time, demonstrate that telemonitoring in this setting led to increased reporting of HNC-specific symptom burden and significantly improved several domains of patient satisfaction. Further analyses are needed to assess whether our findings hold true outside the context of a clinical trial.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: German Clinical Trials Register DRKS00020491;

PMID:37856185 | DOI:10.2196/46189

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