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Home Care Nursing Program for Cancer Patients Evaluated

Last Updated: November 24, 2009.

A home care nursing program for cancer patients receiving oral chemotherapy improves symptoms and reduces the use of medical services, according to a study published online Nov. 16 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

TUESDAY, Nov. 24 (HealthDay News) -- A home care nursing program for cancer patients receiving oral chemotherapy improves symptoms and reduces the use of medical services, according to a study published online Nov. 16 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Alex Molassiotis, R.N., of the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, and colleagues randomly assigned 164 patients with colorectal or breast cancer who were receiving oral capecitabine to a symptom-focused home care program by a nurse, or standard care for 18 weeks (six cycles of chemotherapy).

The researchers found that the home care group had significant improvements in symptoms of oral mucositis, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, pain, fatigue and insomnia, particularly during the first two cycles. Home care also significantly reduced the use of medical services, such as calls to an emergency hotline and the number of inpatient days (57 versus 167 days).

"A symptom-focused home care program was able to assist patients to manage their treatment adverse effects more effectively than standard care," the authors conclude. "It is imperative that patients receiving oral chemotherapy are supported with such programs, particularly during initial treatment cycles, to improve their treatment and symptom experiences."

The study was supported by Roche Products Ltd. through an unrestricted grant. Several authors reported financial and consulting relationships with Hoffmann-La Roche.

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