Early detection and management of adverse drug reactions (ADRs) is crucial for improving patients’ quality of life. Hand-foot syndrome (HFS) is one of the most problematic ADRs for cancer patients. Recently, an increasing number of patients post their daily experiences to internet community, for example in blogs, where potential ADR signals not captured through routine clinic visits can be described. Therefore, this study aimed to identify patients with potential ADRs, focusing on HFS, from internet blogs by using natural language processing (NLP) deep-learning methods. From 10,646 blog posts, written in Japanese by cancer patients, 149 HFS-positive sentences were extracted after pre-processing, annotation and scrutiny by a certified oncology pharmacist. The HFS-positive sentences described not only HFS typical expressions like “pain" or “spoon nail”, but also patient-derived unique expressions like onomatopoeic ones. The dataset was divided at a 4 to 1 ratio and used to train and evaluate three NLP deep-learning models: long short-term memory (LSTM), bidirectional LSTM and bidirectional encoder representations from transformers (BERT). The BERT model gave the best performance with precision 0.63, recall 0.82 and f1 score 0.71 in the HFS user identification task. Our results demonstrate that this NLP deep-learning model can successfully identify patients with potential HFS from blog posts, where patients’ real wordings on symptoms or impacts on their daily lives are described. Thus, it should be feasible to utilize patient-generated text data to improve ADR management for individual patients.
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