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ASCO's CancerLinQ Moves into Prototype Phase in Breast Cancer

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Originally published July 17.

The American Society of Clinical Oncology will work with healthcare technology firm Sapient to develop a breast cancer-focused prototype that will serve as the proof-of-concept for its rapid learning system for oncologists, called CancerLinQ.

“We know very little about most cancer patients, from their molecular profiles to the outcomes of treatments, because this information is tucked away in millions of medical records all over the world. Fortunately, science and technological advances have brought us to a point where we know gathering and utilizing this information to improve cancer care is achievable,” Sandra Swain, ASCO president, said in a statement announcing that the group had begun developing the prototype, which will serve as a "guidepost in the development of CancerLinQ."

The development program for the Learning Intelligence Network for Quality, or CancerLinQ, was formally launched last year. ASCO will unveil the breast cancer-focused prototype at its Quality Care Symposium being held in San Diego from Nov. 30 to Dec. 1.

George Sledge, who served as ASCO's president in 2010 and is currently co-chair of the breast cancer program at the Indiana University Cancer Center, recently discussed with PGx Reporter why oncologists need a CancerLinQ-type system as the disease becomes increasingly characterized by patients’ molecular profiles (PGx Reporter 6/20/2012).

With CancerLinQ, ASCO is planning to collate millions of disparately located medical records into a centralized knowledge base. ASCO imagines that this system will become "smarter” over time, by tracking technological advances within oncology practices, measuring quality and performance of oncologists, and providing physicians real-time decision support.

Sapient, ASCO's health IT collaborator for the CancerLinQ prototype project, was previously involved in building the technology infrastructure for The Cancer Genome Atlas and the National Database for Autism Research.

The protoype will track physician performance based on ASCO’s breast cancer clinical practice guidelines and measures included in its Quality Oncology Practice Initiative. ASCO will begin building the system functions by inputting de-identified breast cancer patient records and importing data from the electronic health records housed at academic centers and oncology practices.

With the lessons learned from this prototype project, ASCO plans to inform its full-scale development of the entire CancerLinQ system. ASCO also hopes to provide real-time, standardized clinical decision support to breast cancer oncologists, measure physicians' performance against clinical guidelines, and generate hypotheses about breast cancer treatments.

"The process will allow ASCO to determine and overcome technological barriers to creating a more robust system encompassing all types of cancer, as well as identify requirements around the use of data standards," the society said in a statement.

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