Living With Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is the world’s most prevalent cancer, with an estimated 2.3 million women newly diagnosed in 2020 and, globally, there are more disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) lost to women who have breast cancer than any other type of cancer. The disease burden of cancer is influenced by not just direct disease progression, but also surrounding lifestyle factors that affect a patient’s overall physical and emotional wellbeing. These, in turn, impact on a patient’s quality of life, including ability to return to work.
Treatment for breast cancer usually involves a combination of surgical resection, radiotherapy, or chemotherapy. The physiological side effects of these treatments are well-documented and can be mitigated to some extent with supportive therapy, such as antiemetics or appetite stimulants. However, the more nuanced symptoms frequently experienced by breast cancer patients, such as pain, fatigue and emotional distress, are often not as well supported: a study in the US found that up to half of patients with cancer in community cancer centers did not report receiving adequate help or advice for these symptoms.
Consequently, further support for the pain, fatigue and psychological challenges breast cancer patients experience is vital in ensuring all their health needs are met, as well as increasing their quality of life, throughout the duration of their treatment and beyond.
Sidekick’s DTx Solution
Digital interventions can effectively improve pain, fatigue, stress and overall health-related quality of life. Therefore, Sidekick has developed a DTx solution to help with the structured implementation of lifestyle improvements to achieve lasting improvements for breast cancer patients. Through a combination of gamification and behavioral psychology, the solution motivates participants to improve their quality of life through the creation of healthier lifestyle habits.
The study was a four-week, single-arm feasibility trial. Eighteen female participants with breast cancer were recruited from The Light (Ljósið), a cancer rehabilitation clinic in Iceland. Participants had a mean age of 50 years and were overweight or obese with a mean BMI of 30, and all had ongoing cancer treatment involving either radiotherapy, chemotherapy, or both.
Participants were asked to register in the app, and had a number of interventional tools available to use including:
- Food logging
- Activity tracking and step count
- Receiving educational content on mindfulness, sleep, stress management, and nutrition