by Deb Wesloh & Lou Ann Donovan
Apps can help Manage your Life with Cancer
Mobile applications for smartphones and tablets, also known as apps, are becoming a rising resource to help people with cancer manage their day-to-day life. Apps are also an easy resource for family members to stay informed and provide support for their loved ones.
A growing number of apps for MPN cancer patients are available to help them access information about their disease, including common symptoms, medication side effects, and overall ease the management of their condition.
There has been a significant interest by cancer healthcare providers on using apps to manage communication, schedule appointments, prescribe medications and overall monitor and improve the health and well-being of their cancer patients.
Recommended Apps for Cancer Patients
One in five U.S. adults use health apps and wearable fitness trackers according to data from a 2019 Gallup poll. There are a variety of health applications available on mobile devices, both free and paid, and some include linking mobile apps to wearable trackers as well. Check out the following list of mobile apps that have been recommended for cancer patients by several well-known sources to include: National Foundation for Cancer Research, The SocialMedwork, VeryWellHealth, and MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Search the App Store, using the app names as they are listed below. Note some apps are all one word and the upper and lower case can fluctuate. For example, CareZone is all one word and chemoWave is spelled like this!
- Calm – Meditate, Sleep, Relax is a free app to download, offers a seven-day free trial then you can select either a monthly, annual or lifetime subscription cost, whichever one is best for you. This app can help you sleep better, boost confidence, and reduce stress and anxiety, all with the help of guided meditations, soothing music, and bedtime stories.
- Cancer.Net Mobile developed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, includes easy-to-use tools to help you plan and manage care, from diagnosis through treatment and beyond provided by the Cancer.Net website including the latest oncologist approved cancer information. Get up-to-date guides on 120+ types of cancer, including treatment, managing side effects, cost of care, and living with cancer.
- CareZone is the easiest app to use for you and your family to manage medications and doctor’s instructions. In addition, you can connect with others in your cancer community, track contacts, keep a journal, photos and files as well as store important information in your notes.
- CaringBridge offers a safe, secure place for patients and caregivers to provide health updates, and for family and friends to respond with messages of emotional support and prayers.
- chemoWave: cancer health app is a virtual advocate for cancer patients, and a companion helping them to do everything in their power to feel better. Features includes: log your daily activities, track your symptoms, schedule medication reminders, journal your daily wellbeing, and save your care providers contact information.
- Daily Workouts – Exercise Fitness Workout Trainer is developed by a certified personal trainer to target all major muscles to strengthen and tone. Great for both men and women with on-screen instructions and timer for targeted and full body workouts.
- Fitbit is one of the world’s leading apps for health and fitness. Find free workouts, nutrition programs, meditation tracks, sleep tools and more. Get a Fitbit wearable tracker or smartwatch to see how all your activity fits together.
- Fooducate – Eat better. Lose weight. Get healthy. by choosing tasty, healthy, real foods that can boost your immune system. Scan over 250,000 barcodes while grocery shopping and get a personalized nutrition grade for each food. Get motivation from the most supportive community in the world.
- HealthUnlocked is an app available for use with iPhone and is the world’s largest online social network for health. Get information, support, and tools that have been shown to improve health outcomes. Take control of your health with over 300+ conditions and wellbeing interests so you can treat your health holistically. Connect with people like you who are going through similar health challenges. Get online support 24/7.
- LivingWith™: Cancer support is designed to help you connect with loved ones, ask for support you need, remember important information from doctor’s visits, and stay organized all in one place.
- Mayo Clinic is a virtual source for on-the-go, anytime access to Mayo Clinic expertise. This app delivers a daily dose of health news and practical advice from top doctors, dietitians, fitness videos, wellness tips, recipes and more.
- MPN Tracker Tools is an online site for US residents 18 years of age or older. These tracking tools are intended for use as a resource and diary for patients with myeloproliferative neoplasms. Information provided in these tools, including outputs from their interactive features, should not be considered an alternative to medical advice from your Healthcare Professional team.
You might consider test-driving several apps from the above list before choosing which ones to commit to. For health-focused and fitness apps, look for ones that make behavior change more fun to help you reach your goals. Different apps can help teach you about your likes and dislikes so you can find an app that personally works best for you. Finally, be sure to give the ones you choose a fair chance too!
3 Tips to Consider before you Download an App
An article published in Medical Software in 2017, suggests the following three tips before you download a mobile app:
– Research the developers: find the developer’s name in the app store or on the app’s website and find out whether they consulted health professionals to develop it or if any hospitals or health organizations endorse the app.
– Look for apps that use evidence-based strategies: such as self-monitoring, goal setting, social support, or rewards.
– Read reviews: see what others have to say in the app store about that particular app; to make sure the app will help patients long-term, pay attention to those users who have used it for a while.
Wearable fitness trackers
Along with mobile apps, there are also wearable fitness trackers. Fitbit, Inc. an American company headquartered in San Francisco, California, introduced the Fitbit as the first wearable fitness tracker in 2013. Two years later, the first Apple smartwatch went on the market in 2015. Wearable trackers can be used to track fitness, heart rate, stress, nutrition, quality of sleep and other personal metrics involved with health and fitness. Currently, researchers are continuing to study whether wearable trackers can improve the health of people with cancer and potentially lower the risk of cancer recurrence.
Together we can Beat Cancer
A great mobile app should empower patients by providing useful information that enables them to manage the challenges of their cancer treatment. Cancer patients and survivors along with their support team of friends and family utilizing cutting-edge tools on their smartphones, tablets and wearable trackers can all work together in beating cancer. The selection of cancer apps listed in this article were chosen from recommended sources because of their potential benefits to support cancer patients and survivors. It is important to remember that these tools do not replace a doctor or specialist. Always consult with your healthcare provider for specific guidance to determine which apps might be the most beneficial for you.
Deb Wesloh, MPN Patient Advocate