Nav: Home

Taking control of cancer -- from your mobile phone

June 19, 2015

As cancer patients and their loved ones know, cancer is not a game. But games played on mobile phones could soon empower those affected by cancer, in a revolutionary new project developed by ecancer and collaborators.

Eight partners from five European countries have come together to create intelligent "games" to allow cancer patients to take control of their illness... by harnessing the power of their mobile phones.

iManageCancer is a consortium of healthcare professionals, game developers, and oncology educators like ecancer.

"iManageCancer, an EU funded project, is a fascinating research project, as it empowers patients to manage their cancer in a way that is not possible today," says collaborator Prof Dr Norbert Graf of the University of Homburg, Germany.

Harnessing the power of reward

Popular games played on consoles, computers and mobile phones have many elements in common. Whether narrative-driven adventure game or simple, addictive puzzles, games are designed primarily to engage the player - resulting in pleasant feelings of control, empowerment and reward.

Could these properties be harnessed to help cancer patients navigate and manage their disease?

The iManageCancer group is developing prototypes of so-called "serious games" as a dynamic new platform for cancer management.

"From a game developer's perspective, iManageCancer gives us the chance to demonstrate how efficient and powerful digital games can be for mobile eHealth systems," says collaborator Ralph Stock of Promotion Software, Germany.

Bringing the community together

"Digital games can not only change the way young patients cope with their disease - we think they will also have the power to encourage their family and friends," Stock adds.

Preliminary research suggests that serious games for young cancer patients could include an interactive multiplayer element, allowing children to gain emotional support from their friends.

"iManageCancer is not only a great support for patients, but also for patient groups, as they will be able to interact with them through the platform to help those who are coping with their cancer," says Prof Dr Graf.

Ideas being tested include a possible game in which children with cancer can encourage their friends to help them "shoot" cancer cells.

Games like these are expected to have many benefits, but chief among them are greater wellbeing, quality of life, and social support for young cancer patients.

Control and empowerment of illness

For older cancer patients, harnessing mobile phone technology to manage their illness might not be as simple as shooting cancer cells. The consortium is researching how mobile phone apps could help patients self-manage their own health data, recording their own symptoms, and taking part in rewarding activities.

But games for both children and adults are designed to incorporate systems of reflection and reward - key principles of cognitive behavioural therapy.

Psychological support is an often-overlooked aspect of cancer care. It's hoped that in addition to providing useful organisational and emotional support, the games will provide psychological benefits.

When prototypes of the games are completed, psycho-oncologists from the European Institute of Oncology will evaluate them to examine their psychological impact.

"By including psycho-cognitive aspects, a holistic view on patients is guaranteed," says Prof Dr Graf. "In addition, studying these games will also give us new insights in research."

There will be an app for that

Games are only one aspect of what is hoped to be an integrated cancer management platform.

It's hoped that this suite of programs will provide patient access to personalised, context-sensitive, data driven information services in an appropriate language.

The platform will incorporate an app or management tool for patients to check potential drug interactions and predictable side effects.

In the later stages, optional wearable sensors connected to the platform will be developed to offer recommendations via the decision support system.

The goal is to help patients make informed choices on treatment options with healthcare providers.

A future of integrated cancer management

If the pilot apps are successful, the iManageCancer project believes that the framework will be readily adaptable to the management of other chronic illnesses.

"In summary," says Prof Dr Graf, "The ability of patients to use an IT platform and these newly developed tools will put them in the driver's position in disease management."

Perhaps literally, as the case may be! But you'll have to watch this space to find out whether iManageCancer is developing a game where cancer patients will take a driver's seat in a virtual race for empowerment.
-end-
To learn more about the iManageCancer project, visit (http://www.imanagecancer.eu) and sign up for a newsletter to stay on top of the project's latest developments.

ecancermedicalscience

Related Cancer Articles:

Radiotherapy for invasive breast cancer increases the risk of second primary lung cancer
East Asian female breast cancer patients receiving radiotherapy have a higher risk of developing second primary lung cancer.
Cancer genomics continued: Triple negative breast cancer and cancer immunotherapy
Continuing PLOS Medicine's special issue on cancer genomics, Christos Hatzis of Yale University, New Haven, Conn., USA and colleagues describe a new subtype of triple negative breast cancer that may be more amenable to treatment than other cases of this difficult-to-treat disease.
Metabolite that promotes cancer cell transformation and colorectal cancer spread identified
Osaka University researchers revealed that the metabolite D-2-hydroxyglurate (D-2HG) promotes epithelial-mesenchymal transition of colorectal cancer cells, leading them to develop features of lower adherence to neighboring cells, increased invasiveness, and greater likelihood of metastatic spread.
UH Cancer Center researcher finds new driver of an aggressive form of brain cancer
University of Hawai'i Cancer Center researchers have identified an essential driver of tumor cell invasion in glioblastoma, the most aggressive form of brain cancer that can occur at any age.
UH Cancer Center researchers develop algorithm to find precise cancer treatments
University of Hawai'i Cancer Center researchers developed a computational algorithm to analyze 'Big Data' obtained from tumor samples to better understand and treat cancer.
More Cancer News and Cancer Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#534 Bacteria are Coming for Your OJ
What makes breakfast, breakfast? Well, according to every movie and TV show we've ever seen, a big glass of orange juice is basically required. But our morning grapefruit might be in danger. Why? Citrus greening, a bacteria carried by a bug, has infected 90% of the citrus groves in Florida. It's coming for your OJ. We'll talk with University of Maryland plant virologist Anne Simon about ways to stop the citrus killer, and with science writer and journalist Maryn McKenna about why throwing antibiotics at the problem is probably not the solution. Related links: A Review of the Citrus Greening...