Quickly reporting cancer complications may boost survival

FILE - In this Sept. 5, 2013 file photo, chemotherapy is administered to a cancer patient via intravenous drip at a hospital in Durham, N.C. According to a study released on Wednesday, May 17, 2017, most doctors did not discuss the cost of cancer treatment with patients, spent less than two minutes on it when they did, and usually did so only after patients brought it up. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File)

CHICAGO (AP) – A study finds that having cancer patients use home computers to report problems like nausea and fatigue surprisingly improved survival, by almost half a year. That’s longer than many new cancer drugs do.

The online tool was intended as a way for people to regularly report symptoms rather than trying to call their doctors or waiting until their next appointment. Those who used it had a better quality of life and lived five months longer on average than those who did not.

Doctors say patients should speak up about side effects and not assume they’re unavoidable. Symptoms may mean a treatment isn’t working, so reporting them quickly gives a chance to try something new.

The study was discussed Sunday at a cancer conference in Chicago.