Applying data analytics to personalize care for every cancer patient

Veteran Journalist and Partner, StoryTK

In the nearly half-century since President Nixon declared war on cancer, our society has spent billions of dollars on research that has helped us made impressive progress toward combating certain forms of cancer. But we’ve lost millions of lives to cancer even so, and things seem to be only getting worse. According to the World Health Organization, roughly 14 million new cases of cancer are reported each year. That’s enough new cancer cases per year to fill a city the size of Bangkok or metropolitan Los Angeles. Worst of all, the number is only expected to grow as global populations age. leading researchers now agree that providing personalized care is our best hope for stemming the tide of cancer. But how do we provide such care to every patient?

Learn more about personalized medicine in the podcast “IBM Watson to Join the War on Cancer,” and explore how one of the world’s leading cancer researchers plans to use big data and IBM Watson to help oncologists customize treatment options so that we can start turning the tables on this global scourge. Dr. Norman Sharpless rose to the top of his field, but he has not always been convinced that data and computational tools could help improve cancer treatments.

Now discover how Sharpless, in his role as head of the University of North Carolina’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, is harnessing the power of big data and IBM Watson to drive advances that he believes could one day make personalized treatments available to everyone. Listen to his plan to test his methods in a clinical trial for all the medical community to see.

Sharpless’s team is using Watson to analyze patient data, various unstructured information (such as scribbled doctor’s notes) and genomic sequences in hopes of identifying the most effective treatment regimen for each individual’s case. Using Watson to enable personalized care, says Dr. Sharpless, would avoid the pain, suffering and tremendous expense that attend ineffective treatments. What’s more, doing so could change the very nature of cancer research.

Join us for this episode of the Wild Ducks podcast series, then tune in for a new episode on the last Thursday of every month. Subscribe on iTunes or SoundCloud to be notified about future episodes, and explore earlier episodes.