Smart watches

How smartwatches could help in the fight against cancer

Smartwatches could become the latest weapon in the fight against cancer.

By measuring heart rate, skin temperature, sleep and other vital signs, scientists hope the devices can help track a patient’s progress and recovery and help them tailor their treatment accordingly.

A groundbreaking study began in Manchester this week using smartwatches, smart rings and a chest-worn device called the Isansys system

Patients with blood, lung and colorectal cancer in Greater Manchester will wear the technology during their treatment as part of the trial, which is being carried out by Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, Christie NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Manchester.

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Thomas Westworth, 70, from South Lakeland in the Lake District, is one of the first people to take part.

The retired builder has been receiving treatment for MRI lymphoma for three months and will wear the technology when he receives his first infusion of CAR-T therapy – a personalized drug used to treat patients with certain types of leukemia and of lymphoma – in the next few weeks.

Mr Westworth said: “I think the real idea behind the trial is fantastic, I think it should help people.

Thomas Westworth, pictured with senior clinical research nurse Sindhu Sibin, is one of the first patients to take part in the trial

“All the staff here at Manchester Royal Infirmary and other hospitals where I have been treated have been fantastic, everyone is absolutely brilliant.”

Dr. Anthony Wilson, Consultant in Anesthesia and Critical Care at MRI, is the clinical lead for the project.

He said: “Cancer places a huge burden on the lives of people everywhere.

“This study uses state-of-the-art technology that allows people to be monitored during their treatment, with devices they can wear all the time.

“We hope it will provide new insights into how people cope with cancer treatment and what we can do to improve their recovery.”

Dr Michael Merchant, senior lecturer in proton therapy physics at the University of Manchester, said: “This trial will assess whether the latest wearable technology has a role in cancer care.

“This will help us identify ways in which clinical staff can individualize treatment before, during and after therapy.

“We will find out if the 24/7 data from these wearable sensors can be used to support patient recovery and provide accurate measurements outside of the clinic.

“It could even support the development of new cancer treatments by developing a digital platform for cancer clinical trials involving wearables or fitness trackers.”