UK Cancer Care Revolutionised with New Database Launch
The world’s largest cancer database had been unveiled in England, raising hopes of an increase in a personalized approach to treating this disease.
Led by Public Health England (PHE), the revolutionary register will bring together clinical information on all 350,000 cancers diagnosed in England, including over 11 million historical case records. It will also exchange information with registers in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The collation of this clinical data will put cancer specialists in the UK “at the forefront of cancer care”, with a pool of precise knowledge to draw from when considering every new individual cancer diagnosis.
Project leader at PHE, Jem Rashbass declared the initiative, which has been in development for five years, a “game changer”.
“In effect every cancer patient has a rare disease that is different in some way from another cancer. This allows us to carry out refined searches to see how other tumours have responded to identify the optimum treatment as early as possible,” he said.
Traditional definitions and subsequently treatment of cancer, essentially cell mutations, have changed as experts continue to discover variances and share findings with their industry colleagues. Different mutations, of which there are many, will naturally need different treatments. Studies of breast cancer, for example, have split the strain into at least 10 completely separate diseases.
The announcement of the national database, which was also heard by cancer experts at the Cancer Outcomes Conference in Brighton yesterday (12thJune), follows a recent report by McMillan Cancer Support predicting that almost 50 per cent of the British population will have developed cancer at some point in their life by the year 2020.
On a positive note, survival figures of those diagnosed have been steadily improving in the last few decades – and bespoke treatment made capable by the launch of this new cancer database can accelerate this positive trajectory.
Emma Greenwood, Cancer Research UK's head of policy development welcomes the project. “It means we have all the UK's cancer information in one place, making us well equipped to provide the highest quality care for every cancer patient.”
To help further the progress in personalised medicine, and relieve the strain on the NHS, the Department of Health has already committed £100m to sequence the entire genetic code of 100,000 patients with cancer and rare diseases.
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