JMIR Publications

JMIR Cancer

Patient-Centered Innovations, Education and Technology for Cancer Care, Cancer Survivorship and Cancer Research


Journal Description

JMIR Cancer (JC) is a Pubmed-indexed, peer-reviewed journal with a focus on education, innovation and technology in cancer care, cancer survivorship and cancer research, as well as in participatory and patient-centred approaches. A sister journal of the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR), a leading eHealth journal (Impact Factor 2016: 5.175), the scope of JC is broader and includes non-Internet approaches to improve cancer care and cancer research.

We invite submission of original research, viewpoints, reviews, tutorials, case studies, and non-conventional articles (e.g. open patient education material and software resources that are not yet evaluated but free for others to use/implement). 

In our "Patients' Corner", we invite patients and survivors to submit short essays and viewpoints on all aspects of cancer, but in particular suggestions on how to improve the health care system, and suggestions for new technologies, applications and approaches (no article processing fees).

JC is open access and all articles are published under a Creative Commons Attribution license. JC has been accepted for indexing in PubMed Central and Pubmed.


Recent Articles:

  • Source:; Copyright: David Castillo Dominici; URL:; License: Licensed by the authors.

    Health Care Providers’ Knowledge of HPV Vaccination, Barriers, and Strategies in a State With Low HPV Vaccine Receipt: Mixed-Methods Study


    Background: Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination is below national goals in the United States. Health care providers are at the forefront of improving vaccination in the United States, given their close interactions with patients and parents. Objective: The objective of this study was to assess the associations between demographic and practice characteristics of the health care providers with the knowledge of HPV vaccination and HPV vaccine guidelines. Furthermore, our aim was to contextualize the providers’ perceptions of barriers to HPV vaccination and strategies for improving vaccination in a state with low HPV vaccine receipt. Methods: In this mixed-methods study, participating providers (N=254) were recruited from statewide pediatric, family medicine, and nursing organizations in Utah. Participants completed a Web-based survey of demographics, practice characteristics, HPV vaccine knowledge (≤10 correct vs 11-12 correct answers), and knowledge of HPV vaccine guidelines (correct vs incorrect). Demographic and practice characteristics were compared using chi-square and Fisher exact tests for HPV knowledge outcomes. Four open-ended questions pertaining to the barriers and strategies for improving HPV vaccination were content analyzed. Results: Family practice providers (52.2%, 71/136; P=.001), institutional or university clinics (54.0%, 20/37; P=.001), and busier clinics seeing 20 to 29 patients per day (50.0%, 28/56; P=.04) had the highest proportion of respondents with high HPV vaccination knowledge. Older providers aged 40 to 49 years (85.1%, 57/67; P=.04) and those who were a Vaccines for Children provider (78.7%, 133/169; P=.03) had the highest proportion of respondents with high knowledge of HPV vaccine recommendations. Providers perceived the lack of parental education to be the main barrier to HPV vaccination. They endorsed stronger, consistent, and more direct provider recommendations for HPV vaccination delivered to parents through printed materials available in clinical settings and public health campaigns. Hesitancy to recommend the HPV vaccine to patients persisted among some providers. Conclusions: Providers require support to eliminate barriers to recommending HPV vaccination in clinical settings. Additionally, providers endorsed the need for parental educational materials and instructions on framing HPV vaccination as a priority cancer prevention mechanism for all adolescents.

  • Laptop with MyAVL homepage (montage). Source: The Authors /; Copyright: The Authors; URL:; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Supporting Lung Cancer Patients With an Interactive Patient Portal: Feasibility Study


    Background: MyAVL is an interactive portal for cancer patients that aims to support lung cancer patients. Objective: We aimed to evaluate the feasibility and usability of the patient portal and generate preliminary evidence on its impact. Methods: Lung cancer patients currently or recently treated with curative intent could use MyAVL noncommittally for 4 months. Feasibility, usability, and preliminary impact (ie, patient activation, quality of life, and physical activity) were studied by means of questionnaires, a focus group, and analysis of user log data. Results: We included 37 of 123 eligible patients (mean age 59.6 years). The majority of responses (82%) were positive about using MyAVL, 69% saw it as a valuable addition to care, and 56% perceived increased control over their health. No positive effects could be substantiated on the impact measures. Conclusions: MyAVL appears to be a feasible and user-friendly, multifunctional eHealth program for a selected group of lung cancer patients. However, it needs further improvements to positively impact patient outcomes.

  • The ePRO tool, used in the study (montage). Source: The authors / placeit; Copyright: JMIR Publications; URL:; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Electronic-Based Patient-Reported Outcomes: Willingness, Needs, and Barriers in Adjuvant and Metastatic Breast Cancer Patients


    Background: Patient-reported outcomes (PROs) play an increasingly important role as an adjunct to clinical outcome parameters in measuring health-related quality of life (HRQoL). In fact, PROs are already the accepted gold standard for collecting data about patients’ subjective perception of their own state of health. Currently, paper-based surveys of PRO still predominate; however, knowledge regarding the feasibility of and barriers to electronic-based PRO (ePRO) acceptance remains limited. Objective: The objective of this trial was to analyze the willingness, specific needs, and barriers of adjuvant breast cancer (aBC) and metastatic breast cancer (mBC) patients in nonexposed (no exposure to electronic assessment) and exposed (after exposure to electronic assessment decision, whether a tablet-based questionnaire is favored) settings before implementing digital ePRO assessment in relation to health status. We also investigated whether providing support can increase the patients’ willingness to participate in such programs. Methods: The nonexposed patients only answered a paper-based questionnaire, whereas the exposed patients filled out both paper- and tablet-based questionnaires. The assessment comprised socioeconomic variables, HRQoL, preexisting technical skills, general attitude toward electronic-based surveys, and potential barriers in relation to health status. Furthermore, nonexposed patients were asked about the existing need for technological support structures. In the course of data evaluation, we performed a frequency analysis as well as chi-square tests and Wilcoxon signed-rank tests. Subsequently, relative risks analysis, univariate categorical regression (CATREG), and mediation analyses (Hayes’ bias-corrected bootstrap) were performed. Results: A total of 202 female breast cancer patients completed the PRO assessment (nonexposed group: n=96 patients; exposed group: n=106 patients). Self-reported technical skills were higher in exposed patients (2.79 vs 2.33, P ≤.001). Significant differences were found in relation to willingness to use ePRO (92.3% in the exposed group vs 59% in the nonexposed group; P=.001). Multiple barriers were identified, and most of them showed statistically significant differences in favor of the exposed patients (ie, data security [13% in the exposed patients vs 30% in the nonexposed patients; P=.003] and no prior technology usage [5% in the exposed group vs 15% in the nonexposed group; P=.02]), whereas the differences in disease burden (somatic dimension: 4% in the exposed group vs 9% in the nonexposed group; P=.13) showed no significance. In nonexposed patients, requests for support services were identified, which could increase their ePRO willingness. Conclusions: Significant barriers in relation to HRQoL, cancer-related restrictions, and especially the setting of the survey were identified in this trial. Thus, it is necessary to address and eliminate these barriers to ensure data accuracy and reliability for future ePRO assessments. Exposure seems to be a potential option to increase willingness to use ePRO and to reduce barriers.

  • Reynolds Army Community Hospital, where staff are shown using Web-based tools. Source: Flickr; Copyright: Ben Sherman; URL:; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Development, Feasibility, and Small-Scale Implementation of a Web-Based Prognostic Tool—Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Cancer Survival Calculator


    Background: Population datasets and the Internet are playing an ever-growing role in the way cancer information is made available to providers, patients, and their caregivers. The Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Cancer Survival Calculator (SEER*CSC) is a Web-based cancer prognostic tool that uses SEER data, a large population dataset, to provide physicians with highly valid, evidence-based prognostic estimates for increasing shared decision-making and improving patient-provider communication of complex health information. Objective: The aim of this study was to develop, test, and implement SEER*CSC. Methods: An iterative approach was used to develop the SEER*CSC. Based on input from cancer patient advocacy groups and physicians, an initial version of the tool was developed. Next, providers from 4 health care delivery systems were recruited to do formal usability testing of SEER*CSC. A revised version of SEER*CSC was then implemented in two health care delivery sites using a real-world clinical implementation approach, and usage data were collected. Post-implementation follow-up interviews were conducted with site champions. Finally, patients from two cancer advocacy groups participated in usability testing. Results: Overall feedback of SEER*CSC from both providers and patients was positive, with providers noting that the tool was professional and reliable, and patients finding it to be informational and helpful to use when discussing their diagnosis with their provider. However, use during the small-scale implementation was low. Reasons for low usage included time to enter data, not having treatment options in the tool, and the tool not being incorporated into the electronic health record (EHR). Patients found the language in its current version to be too complex. Conclusions: The implementation and usability results showed that participants were enthusiastic about the use and features of SEER*CSC, but sustained implementation in a real-world clinical setting faced significant challenges. As a result of these findings, SEER*CSC is being redesigned with more accessible language for a public facing release. Meta-tools, which put different tools in context of each other, are needed to assist in understanding the strengths and limitations of various tools and their place in the clinical decision-making pathway. The continued development and eventual release of prognostic tools should include feedback from multidisciplinary health care teams, various stakeholder groups, patients, and caregivers.

  • Homepage of the "Refresh" intervention. License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Cancer-Related Fatigue in Post-Treatment Cancer Survivors: Theory-Based Development of a Web-Based Intervention


    Background: Cancer-related fatigue (CrF) is the most common and disruptive symptom experienced by cancer survivors. We aimed to develop a theory-based, interactive Web-based intervention designed to facilitate self-management and enhance coping with CrF following cancer treatment. Objective: The aim of our study was to outline the rationale, decision-making processes, methods, and findings which led to the development of a Web-based intervention to be tested in a feasibility trial. This paper outlines the process and method of development of the intervention. Methods: An extensive review of the literature and qualitative research was conducted to establish a therapeutic approach for this intervention, based on theory. The psychological principles used in the development process are outlined, and we also clarify hypothesized causal mechanisms. We describe decision-making processes involved in the development of the content of the intervention, input from the target patient group and stakeholders, the design of the website features, and the initial user testing of the website. Results: The cocreation of the intervention with the experts and service users allowed the design team to ensure that an acceptable intervention was developed. This evidence-based Web-based program is the first intervention of its kind based on self-regulation model theory, with the primary aim of targeting the representations of fatigue and enhancing self-management of CrF, specifically. Conclusions: This research sought to integrate psychological theory, existing evidence of effective interventions, empirically derived principles of Web design, and the views of potential users into the systematic planning and design of the intervention of an easy-to-use website for cancer survivors.

  • Source: The Authors; Copyright: Princess Margaret Cancer Centre; URL:; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Deconstructing Cancer Patient Information Seeking in a Consumer Health Library Toward Developing a Virtual Information Consult for Cancer Patients and Their...


    Background: Cancer patients and their caregivers want information about their disease and are interested in finding health information online. Despite the abundance of cancer information online, it is often fragmented, its quality is highly variable, and it can be difficult to navigate without expert-level knowledge of the cancer system. The Patient & Family Library at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre offers a broad collection of high-quality cancer health information and staff are available to help patrons refine their questions and explore information needs that they may not have considered. Objective: The purpose of this research study was to deconstruct patrons’ information-seeking behaviors in the library to assess the feasibility of replicating the services provided in the library through a Web app, extending the service beyond the walls of the cancer centre. The specific aims of this research were to understand (1) how patrons approach information seeking in the library (interface design), (2) how patrons communicate their informational needs (information categorization and metadata requirements), and (3) what resources are provided to address the patrons’ information needs (collection development). Methods: We employed a qualitative, instrumental case study to deconstruct patrons’ health information-seeking behavior. The study population included patients, the librarian, and library volunteers. Ethnographic observation was conducted at the library over 3 days and key informant interviews with library staff were conducted to address the first aim. A closed card-sorting activity was conducted to address the second aim and the library shift logs and Search Request Forms (SRFs) were reviewed to address the third aim. Results: A total of 55 interactions were recorded during the ethnographic observation and nine semistructured interviews were conducted during the key informant interviews. Seven library patron personas were identified: (1) Newbie, (2) Seasoned, (3) Direct, (4) Window Shopper, (5) Collector, (6) Information Seeker, and (7) Distressed. A total of 83 participants completed the closed card-sorting exercise. The participants’ conceptual clusters within the similarity matrix overlapped with the groupings created by the librarian, with a few differences. A total of 161 entries in the library shift log and 65 SRFs were analyzed to determine what resources were given to patrons. Most resources that patrons received were available online (61%), although almost half of these required special access (47%). Conclusions: The study findings suggest it is possible to replicate library functions in a Web app with a few exceptions that cannot be replicated online. These elements include access to journal articles or other content behind paywalls and the librarian’s ability to encourage further discussion through empathy and active listening. Discussion with the librarian could serve to refine and predict needs through observing information seekers and to provide immediate connection to spiritual care and psychosocial support for patrons in distress.

  • Screenshots of the questionnaires (montage). Source: The Authors /; Copyright: The Authors; URL:; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Assessing the Comparability of Paper and Electronic Versions of the EORTC QOL Module for Head and Neck Cancer: A Qualitative Study


    Background: Patient-reported outcome (PRO) instruments are important tools for monitoring disease activity and response to treatment in clinical trials and clinical practice. In recent years, there have been movements away from traditional pen-and-paper PROs towards electronic administration. When using electronic PROs (ePROs), evidence that respondents complete ePROs in a similar way to their paper counterparts provides assurance that the two modes of administration are comparable or equivalent. The European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) Quality of Life Questionnaire-Core 30 item (EORTC QLQ-C30) and associated disease-specific modules are among the most widely used PROs in oncology. Although studies have evaluated the comparability and equivalence of electronic and original paper versions of the EORTC QLQ-C30, no such studies have been conducted to date for the head and neck cancer specific module (EORTC QLQ-H&N35). Objective: This study aimed to qualitatively assess the comparability of paper and electronic versions of the EORTC QLQ-H&N35. Methods: Ten head and neck cancer patients in the United States underwent structured cognitive debriefing and usability interviews. An open randomized crossover design was used in which participants completed the two modes of administration allocated in a randomized order. Using a “think-aloud” process, participants were asked to speak their thoughts aloud while completing the EORTC QLQ-H&N35. They were thoroughly debriefed on their responses to determine consistency in interpretation and cognitive process when completing the instrument in both paper and electronic format. Results: Participants reported that the EORTC QLQ-H&N35 demonstrated excellent qualitative comparability between modes of administration. The proportion of noncomparable responses (ie, where the thought process used by participants for selecting responses appeared to be different) observed in the study was low (11/350 response pairs [35 items x 10 participants]; 3.1%). Evidence of noncomparability was observed for 9 of the 35 items of the EORTC QLQ-H&N35 and in no more than 2 participants per item. In addition, there were no apparent differences in level of comparability between individual participants or between modes of administration. Conclusions: Mode of administration does not affect participants’ response to, or interpretation of, items in the EORTC QLQ-H&N35. The findings from this study add to the existing evidence supporting the use of electronic versions of the EORTC instruments when migrated to electronic platforms according to best practice guidelines.

  • Source: Flickr; Copyright: Suman Park; URL:; License: Creative Commons Attribution + Noncommercial + ShareAlike (CC-BY-NC-SA).

    The Fitbit One Physical Activity Tracker in Men With Prostate Cancer: Validation Study


    Background: Physical activity after cancer diagnosis improves quality of life and may lengthen survival. However, objective data in cancer survivors are limited and no physical activity tracker has been validated for use in this population. Objective: The aim of this study was to validate the Fitbit One’s measures of physical activity over 7 days in free-living men with localized prostate cancer. Methods: We validated the Fitbit One against the gold-standard ActiGraph GT3X+ accelerometer in 22 prostate cancer survivors under free-living conditions for 7 days. We also compared these devices with the HJ-322U Tri-axis USB Omron pedometer and a physical activity diary. We used descriptive statistics (eg, mean, standard deviation, median, interquartile range) and boxplots to examine the distribution of average daily light, moderate, and vigorous physical activity and steps measured by each device and the diary. We used Pearson and Spearman rank correlation coefficients to compare measures of physical activity and steps between the devices and the diary. Results: On average, the men wore the devices for 5.8 days. The mean (SD) moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA; minutes/day) measured was 100 (48) via Fitbit, 51 (29) via ActiGraph, and 110 (78) via diary. The mean (SD) steps/day was 8724 (3535) via Fitbit, 8024 (3231) via ActiGraph, and 6399 (3476) via pedometer. Activity measures were well correlated between the Fitbit and ActiGraph: 0.85 for MPVA and 0.94 for steps (all P<.001). The Fitbit’s step measurements were well correlated with the pedometer (0.67, P=.001), and the Fitbit’s measure of MVPA was well correlated with self-reported activity in the diary (0.84; P<.001). Conclusions: Among prostate cancer survivors, the Fitbit One’s activity and step measurements were well correlated with the ActiGraph GT3X+ and Omron pedometer. However, the Fitbit One measured two times more MVPA on average compared with the ActiGraph.

  • Image of intervention cover. Image source: the authors created the picture and own the copyright.

    An eHealth Intervention to Increase Physical Activity and Healthy Eating in Older Adult Cancer Survivors: Summative Evaluation Results


    Background: A healthy lifestyle is associated with improved quality of life among cancer survivors, yet adherence to health behavior recommendations is low. Objective: This pilot trial developed and tested the feasibility of a tailored eHealth program to increase fruit and vegetable consumption and physical activity among older, long-term cancer survivors. Methods: American Cancer Society (ACS) guidelines for cancer survivors were translated into an interactive, tailored health behavior program on the basis of Social Cognitive Theory. Patients (N=86) with a history of breast (n=83) or prostate cancer (n=3) and less than 5 years from active treatment were randomized 1:1 to receive either provider advice, brief counseling, and the eHealth program (intervention) or advice and counseling alone (control). Primary outcomes were self-reported fruit and vegetable intake and physical activity. Results: About half (52.7%, 86/163) of the eligible patients consented to participate. The most common refusal reasons were lack of perceived time for the study (32/163) and lack of interest in changing health behaviors (29/163). Furthermore, 72% (23/32) of the intervention group reported using the program and most would recommend it to others (56%, 14/25). Qualitative results indicated that the intervention was highly acceptable for survivors. For behavioral outcomes, the intervention group reported increased fruit and vegetable consumption. Self-reported physical activity declined in both groups. Conclusions: The brief intervention showed promising results for increasing fruit and vegetable intake. Results and participant feedback suggest that providing the intervention in a mobile format with greater frequency of contact and more indepth information would strengthen treatment effects.

  • Doctor talking to young cancer patient. Photo credit: Alex E. Proimos. Image source: Flickr, URL:, licensed under Creative Commons NC 2.0.

    Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Survivorship Educational Programming: A Qualitative Evaluation


    Background: This program evaluation considers the need for increased professional and patient education for adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer survivorship. Due to the high incidence of late effects of cancer treatment among AYA cancer survivors, knowledge sharing and communications are needed throughout the transition from cancer care into community care. AYA survivors are likely to need developmentally appropriate psychosocial care as well as extensive follow-on surveillance by physicians who are educated and aware of the likely chronic conditions and late effects that may occur in these patients. Objective: The objective of this study was to evaluate the outcomes of the After Cancer Care Ends, Survivorship Starts for Adolescent and Young Adults (ACCESS AYA) programming. The intent of the ACCESS AYA program was to build health literacy around AYA survivorship issues and to stimulate improved communications between survivors and health care providers. This paper addresses the central research question of “How did the ACCESS AYA program increase health literacy, communications, and understanding among AYA survivors and providers?” Methods: The primarily qualitative evaluation included a brief introductory survey of participant awareness and effectiveness of the ACCESS AYA project serving as a recruitment tool. Survey respondents were invited to participate in in-depth interviews based on interview guides tailored to the different stakeholder groups. The evaluation used the Atlas Ti qualitative database and software for coding and key word analyses. Interrater reliability analyses were assessed using Cohen kappa analysis with Stata 12.1 (StataCorp LLC) software. Results: The key themes, which included survivor wellbeing, health care professional education, cancer advocates role and education, hospital and community-based resources, and the role of societal support, are presented in a concept map. The interrater reliability scores (ranging from 1 to minus 1) were .893 for first cycle coding and .784 for the second cycle. In the brief quantitative survey based on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 as high, the 22 respondents rated their level of awareness of the project with a mean 3.2 (CI 3.02-3.45) and project effectiveness with a mean of 4 (CI 3.72-4.27). Conclusions: This study contributes to understanding of the ACCESS AYA survivor community in central Texas and the health care professionals and advocates who aid them in their efforts to a new normal life and wellbeing in their survivorship. The results of the evaluation highlight the need to continue to build both survivor and professional resources to address the unique impact of cancer on AYA cancer survivors.

  • Child and mother visiting doctor. Photo credit: uwhealth. Image source: Flickr, Url:, licensed under Creative Commons NC ND 2.0.

    Parent and Health Care Provider Perceptions for Development of a Web-Based Weight Management Program for Survivors of Pediatric Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia:...


    Background: Survivors of pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) may experience unhealthy weight gain during treatment, which has been associated with higher risk for chronic health issues. Objective: The purpose of this study was to obtain feedback on weight management in pediatric ALL survivors and on the content and implementation of a Web-based weight management program. Methods: Study participants included 54 parent survey respondents and 19 pediatric oncology professionals in 4 focus groups. Survey questions included report of child weight status and interest in participating in weight management programming at various time points. Pediatric oncology professionals were asked about the preferred topics and timing, as well as their role. Focus group data were analyzed by a multidisciplinary research team for common themes. Results: The mean age of survivors was 6.5 years. By parent report, 19% of children were overweight and 25% were obese. Preferred timing for weight management program participation was within 3 months of starting maintenance chemotherapy (23/53, 43%) or within 12 months after completion of all cancer treatments (18/53, 34%). Pediatric oncology professionals likewise considered the maintenance phase appropriate. They considered parenting to be an important topic to include and indicated that their most appropriate roles would be promotion and support. Conclusions: Parents and pediatric oncology professionals are interested in and supportive of early weight management in pediatric ALL survivors. Future research needs to identify strategies to integrate this into pediatric cancer care and to evaluate the feasibility and efficacy of these strategies.

  • Rotterdam Prostate Cancer Risk Calculator. Image sourced and copyright owned by authors.

    Rotterdam Prostate Cancer Risk Calculator: Development and Usability Testing of the Mobile Phone App


    Background: The use of prostate cancer screening tools that take into account relevant prebiopsy information (ie, risk calculators) is recommended as a way of determining the risk of cancer and the subsequent need for a prostate biopsy. This has the potential to limit prostate cancer overdiagnosis and subsequent overtreatment. mHealth apps are gaining traction in urological practice and are used by both practitioners and patients for a variety of purposes. Objective: The impetus of the study was to design, develop, and assess a smartphone app for prostate cancer screening, based on the Rotterdam Prostate Cancer Risk Calculator (RPCRC). Methods: The results of the Rotterdam arm of the European Randomized Study of Screening for Prostate Cancer (ERSPC) study were used to elaborate several algorithms that allowed the risk of prostate cancer to be estimated. A step-by-step workflow was established to ensure that depending on the available clinical information the most complete risk model of the RPCRC was used. The user interface was designed and then the app was developed as a native app for iOS. The usability of the app was assessed using the Post-Study System Usability Questionnaire (PSSUQ) developed by IBM, in a group of 92 participants comprising urologists, general practitioners, and medical students. Results: A total of 11 questions were built into the app, and, depending on the answers, one of the different algorithms of the RPCRC could be used to predict the risk of prostate cancer and of clinically significant prostate cancer (Gleason score ≥7 and clinical stage >T2b). The system usefulness, information quality, and interface quality scores were high—92% (27.7/30), 87% (26.2/30), and 89% (13.4/15), respectively. No usability problems were identified. Conclusions: The RPCRC app is helpful in predicting the risk of prostate cancer and, even more importantly, clinically significant prostate cancer. Its algorithms have been externally validated before and the usability score shows the app’s interface is well designed. Further usability testing is required in different populations to verify these results and ensure that it is easy to use, to warrant a broad appeal, and to provide better patient care.

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