A data-driven approach to personalised cancer care

There is a plethora of different datasets in cancer care and multiple data flows between organisations. Reform research shows that this has created a confusing landscape, with some patient care information still missing. The new model of cancer care proposed in this paper looks at how data could be used at every stage of the treatment journey, from prevention and diagnosis to treatment and recovery.

Going forward, the cancer dashboard, run by Public Health England, should be extended to become the single point of access for cancer outcomes data in England. In time, it could make the most of advancements being made in initiatives such as the 100,000 Genome Project, to provide information to clinicians and patients on genetic risk to cancer. An improved cancer dashboard provides the opportunity for the NHS to become better at preventing people from developing cancer. GPs can use insights to help those at risk of developing the disease make healthier lifestyle choices.

Linking the dashboard with the 100,000 Genome Project can encourage a greater use of personalised medicine, targeted at the genetic profile of a patient’s tumour. One current trial of personalised medicine hopes to save 7,000 women with breast cancer from toxic-side effects of chemotherapy, by using genetic profiling to decide who can receive the new drug Herceptin.

A data-driven model can also do more to prevent cancer returning after remission. Studies have looked at how exercise and diet can influence recovery. Apps and wearables can be used to support this.

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