BOSTON (CBS) – Cancer patients often need to be seen in the hospital because of the side effects of treatment. But now, a new clinical trial in Boston is testing whether patients can receive supportive care from home.
One of the patients in the clinical trial is Miah Newman, who has stage four nasal pharyngeal cancer. The 47-year-old receives chemotherapy and radiation.
“All of the sudden, it hits the fan and you feel awful,” said Newman about the treatments.
Managing the side effects of cancer treatments can sometimes mean a trip to the emergency room or even a hospital stay.
But Miah’s getting her supportive care in her own home through a clinical trial from Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center and the group Medically Home.
“We can have somebody join us on the video of their primary oncology team if they want to see the patient while I’m there,” said Melissa Smith, a Nurse Practitioner with Medically Home. “We work closely together to keep that patient on track with their treatment, and they’re improving their quality of life through the symptom management.”
The program involves active monitoring of symptoms. Every day, patients input their vitals and symptoms into an iPad.
“The idea of being able to capture warning signs, diagnose a problem, address it at home, before it becomes a bigger problem that requires a patient to be hospitalized,” said Dr. Areej El-Jawahri with the MGH Cancer Center.
Newman says it makes her feel safe.
“As soon as my heart rate goes high, it’s like you get a phone call,” Newman said. “It definitely gives me some relief to know that people are watching out for me.”
The clinical trial began before the pandemic, but patients say avoiding the hospital now when they can is a big plus.
“It’s really enabled me to continue working, it’s been able to continue having me around the family,” said Newman. “I feel much safer being here. So there’s a lot of reducing risk, and it’s been really good.”
She is also able to receive some chemotherapy at home, making this tough time a little easier.