Health

Test-at-home kit for cancer patients approved for use

  • By Shiona McCallum
  • Technology journalist

A new device aimed at reducing the time cancer patients spend in hospital has received regulatory approval.

The Liberty allows patients to take blood tests – and download the results – at home and without supervision.

Its users say it helps them reduce grueling hospital visits, while clinicians suggest it could increase NHS productivity.

After being tested at The Christie in Manchester, the device will now be rolled out across 12 NHS sites.

However, Cancer Research UK says that so far this product has only been tested on a small number of people. Further work is needed before it is known whether it can be used more widely in the treatment of cancer, the charity says.

Being treated for cancer involves a battery of blood tests, as medical staff monitor several health indicators such as hemoglobin levels and total white blood cell count.

Lynn Thompson, who has suffered from ovarian and bowel cancer since 2017 – and was one of the patients in the trial – said being able to do some of these tests at home was a big relief.

Legend, She says the device has really reduced stress and anxiety in her life.

“To be really honest with you, I fell in love with the machine. It was so easy to follow and use,” the 52-year-old said.

She said it allowed her to no longer be tied to a fixed schedule of hospital visits, which she found physically and mentally exhausting – especially given her fear of needles.

“By the time I walked through the blood room to the chair, I would probably pass out, and that had a knock-on effect: I felt really bad all day.

“The machine took all that out, it’s a simple finger prick that doesn’t hurt. It’s a small amount of blood and then it’s hidden – there’s no stress or anxiety.”

The device, the size of a small printer, can transmit the analysis of blood samples directly to hospital teams.

Sacha Howell, senior lecturer in medical oncology at the University of Manchester, said moving blood tests from the confines of the hospital to the comfort of patients’ homes was not only more convenient for patients, but could also mean savings for the NHS.

Recently, The Christie – one of the largest cancer treatment centers of its type in Europe – has positioned phlebotomy units across the region, in what is being called ‘blood closer to home’.

“But that still means we have to staff these units so patients can get blood tests,” Dr. Howell said.

“If patients could simply do them themselves at home, there would be significant efficiency gains.”

The trials carried out at Christie have shown promising results, even if the number of patients is small.

22 patients like Lynn participated in a home study, supplemented by regulatory approval trials involving 470 patients.

Cancer Research said these low numbers meant some caution was needed.

“This technology is in its early stages” and “further research is needed,” he said in a statement.

“Regulatory approval does not provide guidance on efficacy or clinical utility at this stage – these issues will need to be addressed in future clinical trials of the device before it can be used more widely,” the statement added. .

The head of the company that makes it, Entia, however, is optimistic about what he says is the world’s first blood count analyzer that patients can use at home.

“By providing information about patients’ health status, the device allows healthcare professionals to treat complications preventatively, thereby reducing hospitalizations and treatment interruptions,” said Dr. Toby Basey-Fisher .

News Source : www.bbc.com
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