Treatment of patients with cancer in hospitals or clinics is resource-intensive and imposes a burden on patients. ‘Flexible care’ is a term that can be used to describe treatment administered outside the oncology ward, oncological outpatient clinic or office-based oncologist setting. Programmes that reduce travel burden by bringing cancer treatment to the patient’s home, workplace or closer to the patient’s home, in the form of satellite clinics or mobile cancer units, expand treatment capacity and are well received. Clinical trial data show that, compared with intravenous administration, subcutaneous (s.c.) administration of trastuzumab is preferred by patients with breast cancer (BC), saves healthcare professionals’ (HCPs) time, reduces drug preparation and administration time and reduces direct and indirect costs. As such, s.c. trastuzumab is well suited to flexible care. The results of a Belgian study (BELIS) show that home administration of s.c. trastuzumab is feasible and preferred by patients with BC. Numerous programmes and pilot studies in Europe show that s.c. trastuzumab can be administered effectively in the patient’s home, in primary care settings or local hospitals. Such programmes require planning, training, careful patient selection and technology to link patients, caregivers and specialists in oncology clinics. Once these elements are in place, flexible care offers patients with BC a choice of how treatment may be delivered and lead to improved quality of life, while reducing pressure on HCPs and hospitals. The concept of flexible care is particularly relevant amid the COVID-19 pandemic where guidelines have been developed encouraging remote care.
This article was originally published here
ESMO Open. 2021 Jan 12;6(1):100007. doi: 10.1016/j.esmoop.2020.100007. Online ahead of print.
Barbara Jacoby is an award winning blogger that has contributed her writings to multiple online publications that have touched readers worldwide.