• Cancer

    Transforming cancer care with treatments at home

Cancer is a life-altering diagnosis requiring complex care that can last months, years and, for some people, the rest of their lives. Studies show that people undergoing cancer treatment can spend as much as 10% of their time traveling to and from medical facilities and at appointments for therapies, lab work or scans.

Through collaboration and innovation, Mayo Clinic's Cancer Care Beyond Walls program is transforming care delivery to allow some patients to receive part of their cancer care from the comfort of their own homes while integrating digital technology and remote patient monitoring capabilities to improve clinical outcomes.

Watch: Transforming cancer care with treatments at home

"What we have realized is that as cancer care becomes more complex, it becomes more fragmented," says Dr. Jeremy Jones, a Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center medical oncologist. "Patients end up spending far more of their time undergoing testing and treatments, which can be a great detriment on quality of life."

Cancer Care Beyond Walls is built upon Mayo Clinic's Advanced Care at Home capabilities, which replicate hospital-quality care in a patient's home. Cancer Care Beyond Walls has built upon these capabilities to create a new paradigm for outpatients that allows the care team to administer chemotherapy, perform lab draws and conduct telehealth appointments in the patient's home — addressing barriers to care, including financial constraints, time limitations or travel ability.

Dr. Roxana Dronca, a medical oncologist and the site deputy director of Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center in Florida, explains Cancer Care Beyond Walls is changing how patients navigate their care.

"Cancer Care Beyond Walls gives more people access to cancer care and to clinical trials no matter where they live, reducing the financial and time burden on patients and their families and improving quality of life," says Dr. Dronca. "Providing cancer care in the home for people who are part of this program allows other people with cancer the opportunity to receive treatment in the clinic because more infusion chairs and beds are now available. The program is also designed to reduce a participant’s number of visits to the emergency room through symptom assessment and prompt management."

Maria Holmes, a retired business owner living in Jacksonville, Florida, spends her day on the move. She saw Cancer Care Beyond Walls as an opportunity to stay engaged with activities she enjoys and people she loves.

"I'm able to be with my sister," says Maria. "It is just such a convenience that I could go off and check my time, and say, 'OK, my nurse is going to be here at 9 a.m.,' pop in, get my chemotherapy infusion, and then go back out and continue my walk."

The program allows Bart Tragemann to miss fewer days as an elementary school physical education instructor.

"This program of getting your chemotherapy at home has changed my life," says Bart. "It frees up my time and allows me to do things that I never thought I would be able to do again. My quality of life has changed significantly to a point where I never thought I'd be."

Bart's wife, Erin Tragemann, says treatments at home allow them to spend time with family and make plans that previously had to be arranged around visits to medical facilities.

"Being on this path that we're on right now — being stable right here at home and able to do all the things that we've been talking about doing and going to do them, looking forward to things and going to plan vacations and futures — it's just exciting and wonderful," says Erin.

For Dr. Dronca, the mission of Cancer Care Beyond Walls is personal.

"My daughter, my seemingly healthy 6-year-old daughter, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor in 2020," says Dr. Dronca. "As an oncologist, I was convinced that we can do more. As a mom, I would have given everything, even if a few blood tests were done at home, and we would not have to travel. Even if 1 in 5 infusions were done in the home, we would not have to go through all this."

Dr. Dronca hopes the program will yield an improved quality of life for people with cancer and their families.

"After my personal experience and after my daughter losing her battle with this disease, I'm even more determined that I will fight it with everything I can," says Dr. Dronca. "I will fight it by changing the way we deliver care and making it more comfortable for our patients, and I won't stop until we cure cancer."