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How Texting Is Helping the Fight Against Prostate Cancer

Text messaging is rapidly shaping up to offer a solution for just about everything, and it seems every time we look, there is a new, specific application of texting to improve our lives. One exciting use of SMS to develop in recent years promises to help those diagnosed with or at risk of prostate cancer.

While specific, this cause is a relevant and important one; around one in six American males are diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their lifetimes, and prostate cancer is responsible for the second highest number of cancer-related deaths in American males, behind lung cancer. While a large proportion of those diagnosed with prostate cancer survive, a diagnosis certainly requires a great deal of physical care and emotional support.

Text messaging can help provide this support, and that's exactly what Prost8Care aims to do. Prost8Care, a program created by Mobile Commons, Sanofi US, and the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF), was designed to help patients of advanced prostate cancer understand their disease and the process associated with it. It is a one-way text message subscription service with content designed by oncologists and oncology nurses working with PCF.

Patients who subscribe to text messages through the service receive texts for up to twelve weeks that are timed to their treatment cycle. The texts are designed to offer patients information about their treatment, increase the involvement of the patient in their own care, and provide encouragement and support as they undergo chemotherapy.

In an era where mobile phones are ubiquitous and text messaging is one of the most reliable forms of communication, Prost8Care stands as a promising way to reach and get through to patients, who are realistically more likely to read and benefit from text messages than from more traditional modes of education and outreach. And with SMS being used more and more to bolster health initiatives, usually with very positive results and responses, this service is a promising innovation.

Text messaging is also being introduced to help increase rates of prostate cancer screening, to help those afflicted with the disease detect it earlier and therefore seek treatment earlier and increase rates of remission. A project supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health aims to develop a two-way text-messaging subscription service that is expected to increase compliance with suggested screenings for prostate cancer. The service would remind patients at appropriate times to schedule and attend routine screenings for prostate cancer, and would encourage patients to reply to text messages with updates.

The screening compliance program remains a work in progress, and is intended to be tested ultimately for its effect on compliance in both making and keeping screening appointments, as well as its efficacy as a data collection tool as measured by how often participants share updates via text.

The union between texting and oncology has only begun to form in relatively recent years, but its beginnings grow more and more promising as text messaging is further normalized and put to use in the world of health and medicine. Great things surely lie ahead for SMS and medicine alike.

About the Author -
Sharon Housley is the VP of Marketing for NotePage, Inc. a software company for communication software solutions. http://www.notepage.net

 

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