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Author's profile photo Christine Donato

World Cancer Day, February 4: #WeCanICan

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Today is World Cancer Day (WCD), a day devoted to recognizing that we can all take steps, big or small, to help this often fatal disease.  From preventative and precautionary measures, to raising awareness and educating ourselves and others, WCD promotes the notion that every effort counts.

Currently 8.2 million people die from cancer worldwide each year, and of that number, four million people die prematurely (between the ages of 30 and 69.)  The number of new cases is expected to grow exponentially over the next 10 years.

Today governmental, technology, and healthcare organizations are working together to make big strides in the fight to cure cancer.

“For the loved ones we’ve all lost, for the families we can still save, let’s make America the country that cures cancer once and for all,” said President Barack Obama during his recent State of the Union Address.

Obama then called on US Vice President Joe Biden to lead a cancer moonshot to find a cure for this disease.

To begin, Vice President Biden summoned a group of international leaders in cancer research, treatment, and data science. The panel, which recently convened at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, covered potential opportunities to advance the pace of progress in the fight against cancer.

SAP CEO Bill McDermott was seated on the panel to cover the topic of Big Data analytics and the critical role technology is already playing in the hunt for a cure. Through partnerships with the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), Molecular Health, and the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) in Heidelberg, Germany, SAP has proven that its in-memory computing platform, SAP HANA, is changing the way doctors and health systems comprehend and handle massive amounts of cancer research and data.

With high speed data analysis capabilities, organizations can comprehend billions of patient data sets on DNA sequences, electronic health records, past health history, and all existing cancer research.

Doctors are on the brink of finally being able to benchmark current patients against past instances of similar cancers, dig deep into how people with certain genes will respond to different treatments, and be able to make informed decisions based on facts, not judgment.

Current Pioneers

Varian Medical Systems, for example, is a leading manufacturer of oncology radiation equipment. Varian Medical Systems recently deployed SAP HANA and SAP Fiori user experience as a native app to improve processes around early product costing and employee efficiency.

ASCO, with its cloud-based health IT platform, CancerLinQ, will soon be able to harness big data from millions of de-identified patient records to deliver high-quality, personalized care to people with cancer and cancer survivors. The organization hopes to have 1 million patient records in the system by June 2016. So far, the system contains records from roughly 500,000 patients collected by 350 physicians in 15 practices.

NCT Heidelberg co-innovated to create SAP Medical Research Insights, a software designed to match patients to clinical trials based on various user-selected attributes such as type of cancer, tumor histology, and differences in survival rate. Doctors and patients are using this patient data to optimize individual cancer therapies and pioneer individualized care.

In honor of World Cancer Day, educate yourself on the ways that you can raise awareness and get involved.

For those that lost the battle and for those we can save…today we have the technology to provide precise and personalized treatments. Today, #WeCanICan. 

For more stories, follow me on Twitter @CMDonato

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