Smartwatches could revolutionize personalized cancer care, study finds

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Researchers at UVA Cancer Center have uncovered the potential of wearable and mobile devices, such as smartwatches and smartphones, to transform cancer care into a personalized experience.

By predicting patients’ cortisol levels through these devices, the scientists aim to help doctors tailor cancer treatments to individual patients, particularly for those with pancreatic cancer.

Cortisol Levels and Tumor Growth

The study reveals that patients with pancreatic cancer who experience disrupted sleep and have high cortisol levels tend to experience faster tumor growth.

Utilizing this information from patients’ mobile devices, healthcare providers could help at-risk individuals manage their cortisol levels more effectively, potentially slowing tumor growth.

While this research is in its early stages, the UVA scientists envision a comprehensive approach that brings together experts from various fields, including psychology, engineering/data science, and oncology.

Their goal is to leverage the untapped potential of everyday devices, such as smartphones and smartwatches, to revolutionize cancer care and make it more individualized.

A Vision for Individualized Cancer Treatment

Lead researcher Philip I. Chow, Ph.D., from the University of Virginia School of Medicine, envisions a future where cancer treatment is tailored to each patient’s behavioral health profile.

The researchers believe that patients’ mobile sensing data, including hormone levels, can enhance our understanding of cellular and biologically based diseases.

By incorporating this data into advanced modeling systems for cancer tumors, doctors can gain unprecedented insights into patients’ diseases and their progression.

In their scientific paper, the researchers argue that people’s mobile sensing data holds great potential for improving our understanding of diseases.

Recent breakthroughs in modeling cancer tumors have opened up new possibilities for utilizing data collected from wearable and mobile devices.

The UVA team has developed a system called the tumor microenvironment system (TMES) to model how cancer cells grow.

Through this system, they discovered that pancreatic cancer cells proliferated faster in individuals with high cortisol levels due to disrupted sleep.

Future Applications and Collaborative Research

The potential applications of this technology extend beyond predicting tumor growth in response to cortisol levels. It could be used to study how patients’ behaviors influence their cancers and contribute to fundamental cancer research.

The UVA researchers foresee a future where patients wear smartwatches connected to mobile apps that securely transmit encrypted data to healthcare providers.

Artificial intelligence would estimate hormone levels from behavioral patterns, and this information would be integrated into electronic health records to guide clinicians in making the best care decisions.

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The research findings can be found in Internet Interventions