Today’s healthcare system creates reams of data that require careful collection, analysis, and implementation to improve cancer care outcomes. Cancer informatics, or CI, is a large and widening field that marks the confluence of healthcare, computer science, and analytics. Effective cancer informatics programs may ultimately improve care, accelerate research, and save thousands of lives by leveraging data to shape oncology best practices.
What is Cancer Informatics?
Cancer informatics uses robust digital systems to organize data, provide treatment insights, model current and future patient outcomes, and track care standards and results from diagnosis to aftercare.
The primary data source for CI professionals is clinical data sourced from thousands of contributed care centers and records depositories. They also access more specialized data sources, such as cancer registries, and patient-reported data to provide additional context to institutional care.
Commitment to Care: The National Cancer Informatics Program
The CI field’s importance and efficacy have led to the development of the National Cancer Informatics Program. Created by the National Cancer Institute, the program serves as the primary hub of informatics work by connecting researchers, analysts, and healthcare professionals. The organization also provides presentations and resources for CI professionals and the wider healthcare field.
Automation in Cancer Data
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also supports the CI field with a renewed commitment to data sharing. One of the CDC’s most impactful contributions has been the National Program of Cancer Registries-Advancing E-Cancer Reporting and Registration Operations. Known as the NPCR-AERRO, this program is designed to automate cancer registration data and shape surveillance models, while also standardizing data collections and processes.
Additional Informatics Applications
Cancer informatics is a more precise application of a wide trend toward public health surveillance. Similar methods are also used to monitor public health across populations and quantify a range of other diseases or risks, including viral infection, lifestyle diseases, and other generalized health risks.
A Data-driven Approach to Care – and Prevention
One of the vital elements of CI is the ability to track pre-diagnosis risk factors, such as ethnicity, residence, and chemical exposure that may ultimately improve cancer rate predictions. At Less Cancer, we’re committed to helping healthcare professionals and families stay informed and empowered. Learn more about our work and consider donating today.