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Exploring how games can help children cope with cancer – new pilot from iManageCancer

The iManageCancer project, of which ecancer is a member, has the goal of improving the lives of people living with chronic illnesses like cancer by harnessing the power of mobile phone technology, and helping those with cancer take control of their disease. The latest pilot from the project explores how mobile health tools can be used to help children with cancer, their siblings and peers to understand their condition.

The project is a European research activity to empower patients and strengthen their capability to manage their diseases through novel health apps and secure eHealth services.

Central to the pilot is a serious game for kids which is a classic shooter game that also has many social features, so they can involve their friends, siblings and parents. Through playing, the children can see that there are weapons against cancer which, if properly used, can combat cancer.

The impact of the iManageCancer platform on the children’s wellbeing, and that of their parents, siblings and peer group will be measured by questionnaires within the apps and through analysis of usage data. In addition, a tailored questionnaire developed by the Department of Paediatric Oncology of Saarland University will be used to see the impact on the quality of life of parents of children with cancer.

In most children cancer can be cured today with an overall survival rate of more than 80%. This improvement is mainly due to prospective randomized clinical trials, basic research and empowering of parents of children with cancer . 

Prof. Dr. Norbert Graf, University of Saarland, who is organising the pilot at the Department of Paediatric Oncology describes the thinking behind the pilot: “There is an increasing need for cancer patients and parents of children with cancer to take an active, informed and leading role in their ongoing care to improve their physical, psychological, and social aspects of health thus resulting in a better quality of life.”

“More than with adults, support for children with cancer needs to include the whole family. How parents of children with cancer cope with the disease directly influences the child’s well-being in a circular sequence of effects . It is therefore crucial to enhance empowerment and resilience of the child or teenager with cancer by also strengthening their peers and all family members.”

Professor Stephan Kiefer, Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering and iManageCancer project coordinator said of the pilot: “patients and clinicians have had significant input into the development of the iManageCancer apps and the planned pilots. The pilot for children is a major milestone of the project, which will evaluate the effectiveness of the iManageCancer apps in improving children’s well-being. Coupled with a pilot for adults also soon to begin, we will be able to see clear results on the effects of mobile health technology.”

This short video introduces the iManageCancer apps currently being developed and is available in English, German and Italian.

The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 643529.

The authors are solely responsible for the content of this document, it does not represent the opinion of the European Commission and the Commission is not responsible for any use that might be made of the information it contains.

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Founding partners

European Cancer Organisation European Institute of Oncology

Founding Charities

Foundazione Umberto Veronesi Fondazione IEO Swiss Bridge

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Cancer Intelligence