Sunday, July 7, 2013

A cancer database

The proverbial 'they' always talk about cancer patients and success stories either in generalities full of percentages with lots of big words - 37% of patients with diagnosis A tend to show positive responses to treatment protocol Q while 82% show positive responses to protocol ZB37. Then you hear stories about individuals who had this outcome or that one.

But what if it could all be consolidated into a big pie where it could be dissected and analyzed? Then the data could be  better understand and prognoses could be better predicted. Patients might even handle treatment better. Who would have thunk? Individualized medicine could be better understood and more wide spread. Cancer research will become easier and faster.

Public Health England is going to do exactly that - develop a huge public cancer database. I think this is a great idea. Statistical analysis aside (as well as statistical paralysis) it would provide so much information about existing patients that the benefits are unimaginable.

Now England is a much smaller country than the US with approximately 350,000 new tumors diagnosed each year so its is more manageable. In the US, the number is 1.6 million so it would be that much more difficult.

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