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Cancer treatment at home poses new challenges

Chemotherapy pills have certainly streamlined how cancer patients receive treatment, but they are not without their problems. Taking medication at home raises the risk of missed doses, but researchers at Michigan State University believe there are a number of ways to help cancer patients manage their drug regimen at home.

The biggest issue with at-home chemotherapy treatments is that side effects, which can range from nausea and vomiting to fatigue and pain, can lead to skipping doses. In an effort to see if there was a way they could improve the process, a team at MSU took a group of cancer patients and split them into three groups: one received automated calls reminding them to take their medication, another received calls from nurses, and the third got an automated call and a checkup.

"People think if they had a life-threatening disease and their doctor recommended treatment, they'd follow the recommendations," said study co-author Barbara Given. "But it's really not that simple."

By the end of the study, researchers found that all the participants had an improvement in their symptoms, with those who received automated alerts improving the most. The results suggest home care providers can play a significant role in medication management.

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