10 Helpful Apps for Cancer Patients
Dealing with cancer—and the symptoms and treatment side effects that often go along with it—can be quite stressful. But today, there are numerous resources you can access on your smartphone with the swipe of a fingertip. These apps can help you manage your condition on the go, and get a better handle on everything you’re grappling with. Tejal Patel, MD, breast medical oncologist at the Houston Methodist Cancer Center, describes her 10 favorite (and free!) apps for cancer patients. (Note: Many of these apps can be helpful for family and friends, too.)
- GoodRx (available for iPhone/iPad and Android) helps people save money on their prescriptions. In today’s marketplace, with consumers taking on more of the cost of medications themselves, this can be a valuable way to shop smart. Whether you use name brand or generic drugs, GoodRx can bring you significant savings every month. "GoodRx allows one to find the cheapest prescription drug prices at multiple local pharmacies. It also allows access to discount coupons," Patel says. Simply type in the drug name you need and you’ll get a comparison of prices at local pharmacies, since the costs can vary widely from one place to another. The app even offers drug refill reminders.
- Cancer.net (available for iPhone/iPad and Android) offers an educational app in English and Spanish. "From the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), this application includes up-to-date guides on 120 types of cancer, with information about treating cancer as well as managing side effects," Patel says. The combination of expert-approved information and the latest research findings can help patients and their family members make informed cancer treatment and management decisions. It also has an interactive tool you can use to save questions you want to ask your physician, along with the ability to record your doctor’s reply, so you can access it later.
- MedHelper (available for iPhone/iPad and Android) is a handy pill-reminder app that "allows the patient to keep track of prescriptions," explains Patel. "Alarms remind you when medications need to be taken, when doctor appointments are scheduled, or when a prescription needs to be refilled." These tools may sound like details, but staying on top of your schedule will take some of the stress out of the equation, and allow you to focus on other aspects of your treatment.
- Restaurant Nutrition (for iPhone/iPad and Android) offers an easy way to follow dietary guidelines and restrictions when you eat out. Good nutrition is especially important for cancer patients, and "This app includes nutritional information for over 100 restaurants and 15,000 food items," Patel says. You can opt to view calories, protein, carbs, and fat for different menu items, set filters for various allergens (and display any the restaurant identifies), as well as identify gluten-free options. While the regular app is free, there is a premium version that can calculate the Weight Watchers Points Plus values of foods.
- MyFitnessPal (for iPhone/iPad and Android) takes the guesswork out of calculating your energy expenditure and calorie intake. "MyFitnessPal makes it easy to enter food choices, or even import a recipe from the web and track the nutritional information," Patel notes. "MyFitnessPal also connects with 50 devices and apps, including Fitbit [a wearable exercise tracker]." This makes it simple to monitor how many calories you burn each day. You can select different activities right in the MyFitnessPal app to calculate how many calories you’ve burned, or use the app to meet the dietary requirements of a range of eating plans, including Atkins, the South Beach Diet, and the Zone.
- About Herbs (available for iPhone/iPad or as web-based version for other mobile devices) was created by New York City’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to help cancer patients take advantage of alternative treatment options in the safest and most informed way. "This app provides comprehensive, objective information about herbs, botanicals, supplements, complementary therapies, and more," Patel says. The app provides info about the possible adverse effects and interactions of various complementary treatments, allowing you to determine which therapies are the safest and most effective.
- Evernote (for iPhone/iPad and Android) makes it easy to take notes, make checklists, and store PDFs of medical records, test results, and more. You can organize your information and share it with others right through the app. You can also access your files on different devices, both at home and on the go. While the app is free, there’s also the option to pay for a premium subscription that increases its functionality.
- Clinical Trials (only for iPhone/iPad) "provides easy access to search the National Library of Medicine (NLM) database of available clinical trials worldwide," Patel explains. Run by Pharmaceutical Product Development (PPD), the app allows you to search for various research opportunities and clinical trials you may want to participate in. Clinical Trials allows you to specify various preferences, including location. You can also register with PPD to participate in upcoming trials directly through the app.
- Cancer Navigator (only for iPhone/iPad) was designed by oncologists to help cancer patients and their families to cope with the effects of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. This app makes it easy to track your symptoms, see patterns, and share information with your doctor. It also allows you to keep a timeline of your medical history, procedures, and treatments all in one place.
- Canopy Medical Translator (for iPhone/iPad and Android) translates medical information for patients who don’t speak English as their first language. "This app currently does not have [a designated] oncology section, but it has many other sections and can translate into 15 languages," Patel says. This is an essential tool for ensuring that foreign language-speaking patients and their families understand medical information and recommendations properly, and can also communicate their questions and concerns back to their medical providers.
Tejal Patel, MD, reviewed this article.
Patel, Tejal, MD. Email interview. July 18, 2015. http://www.goodrx.com/ GoodRx. Website accessed July 27, 2015.
Cancer.Net. American Society of Clinical Oncology. 2015.
MedHelper. Website accessed July 27, 2015.
RestaurantNutrition. Facebook. Page accessed July 27, 2015.
MyFitnessPal. Website accessed July 27, 2015.
About Herbs. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. 2015.
ClinicalTrials.com. Pharmaceutical Product Development. 2015.
Cancer Navigator. MD Acuity, LLC. Website accessed July 27, 2015.
Canopy Medical Translator. Canopy. Website accessed July 27, 2015.
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