Rincon E, Monteiro-Guerra F, Rivera-Romero O, Dorronzoro-Zubiete E, Sanchez-Bocanegra CL, Gabarron E.
Mobile phone health apps are increasingly gaining attention in oncological care as potential tools for supporting cancer patients. Although the number of publications and health apps focusing on cancer is increasing, there are still few specifically designed for the most prevalent cancers diagnosed: breast and prostate cancers. There is a need to review the effect of these apps on breast and prostate cancer patients' quality of life (QoL) and well-being.
The purposes of this study were to review the scientific literature on mobile phone apps targeting breast or prostate cancer patients and involving QoL and well-being (anxiety and depression symptoms) and analyze the clinical and technological characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses of these apps, as well as patients' user experience with them.
We conducted a systematic review of peer-reviewed literature from The Cochrane Library, Excerpta Medica Database, PsycINFO, PubMed, Scopus, and MEDLINE to identify studies involving apps focused on breast and/or prostate cancer patients and QoL and/or well-being published between January 1, 2000, and July 12, 2017. Only trial studies which met the inclusion criteria were selected. The systematic review was completed with a critical analysis of the apps previously identified in the health literature research that were available from the official app stores.
The systematic review of the literature yielded 3862 articles. After removal of duplicates, 3229 remained and were evaluated on the basis of title and abstract. Of these, 3211 were discarded as not meeting the inclusion criteria, and 18 records were selected for full text screening. Finally, 5 citations were included in this review, with a total of 644 patients, mean age 52.16 years. Four studies targeted breast cancer patients and 1 focused on prostate cancer patients. Four studies referred to apps that assessed QoL. Only 1 among the 5 analyzed apps was available from the official app store. In 3 studies, an app-related intervention was carried out, and 2 of them reported an improvement on QoL. The lengths of the app-related interventions varied from 4 to 12 weeks. Because 2 of the studies only tracked use of the app, no effect on QoL or well-being was found.
Despite the existence of hundreds of studies involving cancer-focused mobile phone apps, there is a lack of rigorous trials regarding the QoL and/or well-being assessment in breast and/or prostate cancer patients. A strong and collective effort should be made by all health care providers to determine those cancer-focused apps that effectively represent useful, accurate, and reliable tools for cancer patients' disease management.