Cancer is one of the most feared diseases of our time. According to the World Health Organization, there were 14.1 million new cases in 2012 and 8.2 million cancer-related deaths worldwide. In Canada, every year, more than 230 000 people learn that they have cancer and more than 85 000 people die from this disease.
Cancer not only affects patients but also their families and friends. Patients and caregivers both often feel guilty, helpless and exhausted. They need all the support they can get.
What is cancer?
Cancer is a disease in which cells in the body grow out of control. When cancer starts, it produces no symptoms. As it grows, cancer may give rise to symptoms.
There are more than 100 types of cancer. The most common types are:
Breast cancer in women
Colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon or rectum)
Prostate cancer in men
Cancer can also begin in other parts of the body, such as the liver, pancreas or skin.
Treatments for cancer
There are many ways to help cancer patients and their families cope with the disease.
Some cancer treatments are surgical or pharmacological, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
There are many non-pharmacological supportive treatments, such as psychological interventions (including stress management, hypnosis, and cognitive-behavioural interventions), exercise (including yoga and taichi), a healthy and balanced diet, relaxation or visualization techniques, natural healing such as acupuncture and physical therapy for pain, participation in support groups, and even art therapy.
How apps may help patients with cancer
Nowadays there is an increasing number of apps available to help people manage their health condition. These apps can be used to track symptoms, schedule appointments and reminders for treatment side effects, find support groups online or near you, meditate or do some relaxation exercises, get information about clinical trials, treatments and their adverse effects, or nutrition tips.
If you have been diagnosed with cancer or if you are a caregiver for someone with cancer, here are some of the many apps that may help you. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution for all cancer patients, these apps may offer some relief and assistance during a difficult time.
CancerAid is an app that helps cancer patients and their families manage the physical and psychological side effects of cancer. The app lets users keep track of their diagnostic and treatment information, access medically reliable information, track and manage side effects, nominate their care team, and gain access to a motivational community. CancerAid is endorsed by several leading Cancer Hospitals, Health Insurance Providers, and Cancer Charities
The Belong - Beating Cancer Together app is a free, all-in-one personalized solution that helps cancer patients and their families regain control over their lives. The app provides direct chats with world-renowned professional experts, a supportive and interactive patient community, personalized content and updates, treatment navigation tools, and a digital binder to organize medical documents in one place. The app also offers a free clinical trial matching service that uses machine learning algorithms to analyze and notify users of available and relevant clinical trials around the globe.
The Untire app is a comprehensive self-help program that guides cancer patients and survivors through a step-by-step program to help them beat cancer-related fatigue (CRF). The app features tips and reminders to improve lifestyle, mind and body exercises to increase energy levels, an online community for support and communication, and weekly reporting to track progress.
War On Cancer is the largest free social media app for everyone affected by cancer. The app contains features to help improve your mental health while going through cancer, including the ability to share your story, connect with others, and find information on specific topics.
Because non-pharmacological treatment is important for cancer patients, it is clear that apps may help people with cancer and their families in various ways.
While there is no one-size-fits-all solution for all cancer patients, these apps may offer some relief and assistance during a very difficult time.
Your health care professional can help you choose
Feeling confident is important. Get all the essential information about health apps by talking to your healthcare professional.
AppGuide provides reliable information about mobile health apps that allows patients and healthcare professionals to make informed, shared decisions about using a health app to track health status or act on your priority health goals.