The global cancer "grid"

Here’s an interesting article from MIT’s Technology Review about how vast databases of patient information are being connected to compile worldwide data about cancer, and, eventually, to provide a powerful tool for clinicians treating the disease.

For several years, clinicians and computer scientists in the U.S. and abroad
have been trying to improve cancer care—from diagnosis to treatment—by building
vast, interconnected databases full of patient information. They call these
repositories "medical grids" and envision the day when a physician in Strasbourg
or New Delhi can see, for example, that an indecipherable image of a patient’s
lung is very similar to that of a San Francisco patient, whose case history
could inform the decision to perform a biopsy.

These nascent databases include not only patients’ medical histories,
including such data as MRIs and CT scans, but also information about how they
have responded to drugs. But the benefits of these under—construction grids have
been slow to come, partly because of technical problems and partly because
federal privacy rules make data sharing difficult. Now, a National Cancer
Institute project could test a multihospital system for comparing lung cancer
images as early as this year—a clear move toward putting grids to use.

For several years, clinicians and computer scientists in the U.S. and abroad
have been trying to improve cancer care—from diagnosis to treatment—by building
vast, interconnected databases full of patient information. They call these
repositories "medical grids" and envision the day when a physician in Strasbourg
or New Delhi can see, for example, that an indecipherable image of a patient’s
lung is very similar to that of a San Francisco patient, whose case history
could inform the decision to perform a biopsy. […]

These nascent databases include not only patients’ medical histories,
including such data as MRIs and CT scans, but also information about how they
have responded to drugs. But the benefits of these under—construction grids have
been slow to come, partly because of technical problems and partly because
federal privacy rules make data sharing difficult. Now, a National Cancer
Institute project could test a multihospital system for comparing lung cancer
images as early as this year—a clear move toward putting grids to use. […]

For more, read the article.

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