Skip to main content

Computer games help cancer treatment

The cancer-beating video game
The cancer-beating video game

A study of teens and young adults with cancer has shown that a computer game can teach them to both take their medicine and understand their condition better.

Re-Mission is a game where the user plays Roxxio inside the body of a cancer sufferer with the aim of beating the disease by using drugs and living a healthier lifestyle.

The University Medical Center Utrecht in The Netherlands conducted a study with teens and young adults, unsurprisingly, statistically the worst at following cancer treatment programs. The group were divided into two – one played Re-Mission, the second played Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb.

Rise and re-mission

Those playing Re-Mission showed a 16 per cent increase in following their course of treatment with 62.3 per cent taking their prescribed medication, compared to 52.5 per cent for the Indiana Jones group.

HopeLab, a not-for-profit organisation from California, developed the game to help improve the knowledge of the cancer sufferers of what is happening to their bodies.

Users often don't take their prescribed medication as they associate the process with its negative side-effects such as the hair loss that usually accompanies chemotherapy.

"To me, it was kind of changing their reward system for taking chemo and giving them a different insight," Dr. Pamela M. Kato, lead author of the study, told Reuters Health.