New program makes it easier for certain breast cancer patients to be treated at home

In In The News by Barbara Jacoby

By: Barbara Morse


A new program is making it easier for certain breast cancer patients to be treated at home.

This program, which is being offered through the Lifespan Cancer Institute, will mean some women with advanced breast cancer who qualify for, or are already, taking oral chemotherapy, may now avoid coming to the hospital so often.

“Typically these patients come into our office two to three times per month,” said Dr. Mary Anne Fenton, a medical oncologist at the Lifespan Cancer Institute. She admits this has been a struggle for some of her patients.

“The women’s oncology team at the Lifespan cancer institute came up with a novel care model for home-based care for the oral anti-cancer drugs,” said Fenton.

Lifespan is partnering with a licensed nursing agency.

“So, the nurse will go in to the home, will do the assessment and then initiate a video visit with the provider and the patient to mimic the office visit and together we’ll discuss the patient’s physical and mental well-being and any barriers they have to continuing their anti cancer treatment,” said Fenton

“We really want to take patient care to the patient where they are and we recognize that patients really do not want to travel unnecessarily, particularly in the time of COVID,” said Susan Korber, vice-president of the Lifespan Cancer Institute.

Those who qualify for the oral anti cancer medication will meet with a nurse educator — often in person. As well as a pharmacist.

“Because these drugs — people are taking chemotherapy at home and we know there’s certain precautions we want them to be very careful about where they store the drug, how they handle it, how they keep it out of the hands of children,” said Korber.

Pfizer’s Global Health Grants and Investments Program is providing the money for this home-based program. To start with, the Lifespan Cancer Institute hopes to enroll 30 women. More down the road, if this proves successful.