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YOUR HEALTH: Cutting the nausea for children facing cancer teatments

Oncologists say nausea and vomiting can be common for kids getting chemo. One doctor reached out to an IT team for help.

PHOENIX, Arizona – Patients facing cancer treatment often get sick from the treatments they receive.

It can be particularly rough for young children trying to beat back their cancer.

So a team of doctors, IT experts, and pharmacists at Phoenix Children's Hospital created a way to make chemo less horrible for kids.

The new Chemotherapy Induced Nausea Vomiting (CINV) dashboard is making that happen.

"It's real time actionable electronic data that is not entered by a research coordinator, that is just a byproduct of the care that you're giving," said Dr. Vinay Vaidya, chief medical officer for Children's Hospital.

Doctors now have information on the best antiemetics for specific chemo drugs at their fingertips, every morning.

"There's a group of us who reviews it and makes sure that the right combination of drugs is ordered, and I've noticed a huge difference, much more rare now that patients are struggling with nausea and vomiting," explained Dr. Lexa Walsh, a pediatric oncologist.

Nurses ask patients to report their nausea on a scale, which is also recorded in the dashboard.

"It helps us up front to make sure that we're prescribing it adequately, but then on the back end, it also helps us to see how our preventative measures are actually helping," said clinical pharmacist Melissa Rees.

HELPING CHILDREN:   The effects of chemotherapy vary with each child and the dose they receive.   There are a few tips for parents to help children with nausea.  This includes giving them small sips of drinks throughout the day, providing them with flat lemonade and commercial glucose drinks such as Lucozade, diluting certain drinks with water, and using a lid and straw on cups to make smells less noticeable.

Dr. Walsh says families may have access to the dashboard someday, creating a full team of people helping kids not get sick while they're getting well.

Phoenix Children's is sharing the dashboard idea with other medical centers and is also collecting a lot of data on chemo drugs and anti-emetics which is another benefit of their research.

If this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at jim.mertens@wqad.com or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com.