Last year in the UK over 60,000 cancer patients enrolled on clinical trials aimed at improving cancer treatments and making them available to all.
A study looking at capecitabine chemotherapy doses in advanced breast or bowel cancer (DATACAP)
This study looked at using a mobile phone programme to check on people’s side effects when they were taking a chemotherapy drug called capecitabine. The researchers hoped this would help doctors manage side effects better, and decide when they could safely increase someone’s dose to help treat their cancer.
Researchers always need to weigh up the benefits of treatment against how it affects people’s
The researchers in this trial wanted to see if there was a way of safely increasing the dose of capecitabine for people who were doing well. They looked at people who were taking capecitabine for either breast cancer or bowel cancer that had spread to another part of the body. They checked to see how they were getting on with text messages twice a day. From this the doctor could change their dose either by text or at the clinic, depending on the side effects the person reported.
This study aimed to develop a system to manage side effects and adjust
Summary of results
The researchers found that it was possible to safely change the dose by keeping a check on the side effects of capecitabine using a mobile phone application. They say that the instant side effect record from the application might help people to have the best dose possible to treat their cancer.
26 people took part in this small study. They were each given a mobile phone with the application loaded onto it. Everybody completed a side effect questionnaire, temperature and dose diary twice a day, using the application. The phone sent this information to a secure central database.
The computer analysed all the information each time someone filled in their diary and if necessary,
- Sent a text message to people with advice on how to manage their side effects
- Sent a message straight away to people who shouldn’t take their next dose
- Alerted the study nurse to get in touch if somebody reported a severe side effect or a high temperature reading with what to do next
The researchers looked at all the information they had collected. They found that
- People completed the mobile phone diary just over 9 out of 10 (92.6%) times
- 12 people had a severe side effect that had to be managed
- In 8 people the dose of capecitabine was increased
- In 8 people the dose of capecitabine was decreased
- Overall, the average dose that people took was just below the usual capecitabine dose
- The health care professionals and people who took part said they felt reassured by the new system
- The study nurses said it was a practical system and they felt confident that peoples’ side effects were managed quickly
The study team concluded that it is possible to use a mobile phone application to check on treatment side effects. And to change people’s capecitabine dose so they can have the best dose possible to treat their cancer.
We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the trial. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (
How to join a clinical trial
Dr Andrew Weaver
NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre
Oncology Clinical Trials Office (OCTO)
University of Oxford
Vodafone UK Foundation