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3/17/2011
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Vanderbilt Launches Cancer Decision Support Tool

My Cancer Genome Web site will collect information about genetic mutations that impact different cancers and link to targeted research on treatment options.

Health IT Boosts Patient Care, Safety
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Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC) has launched the nation's first personalized cancer decision-support Web site that will collect and distribute information about the expanding list of genetic mutations that impact different cancers, as well as provide links to research documents on various treatment options based on specific mutations.

The online tool, My Cancer Genome, is linked to Vanderbilt University Medical Center's StarPanel electronic medical record (EMR) database, giving physicians the ability to cross-reference patients' medical histories, lab results, medications, and other medical information with online data that tracks the latest developments in personalized cancer medicine and clinical research.

In an interview with InformationWeek, William Pao, associate professor of medicine and director of personalized cancer medicine at VICC, said the cancer research community anticipates that the landscape is likely to become more complicated as new, clinically relevant mutations are discovered.

"We aim to be the reference site so that up-to-date data on clinical associations among mutations and therapeutic outcomes will be easy to find," Pao said. "A genetically informed approach to cancer medicine is currently in its infancy, but because of promising outcomes using this approach we anticipate that it will become more widely adopted."

Pao also noted that for widespread adoption of a genetically informed approach to occur, it will be important that the people making clinical decisions, as well as patients, have the information they need at their fingertips. "We hope that this Web site will provide up-to-date information [to] help people make informed treatment decisions," he said.

To help speed treatment decisions based on the best science available, physicians who receive a tumor profiling lab result showing a mutation in a specific gene that is relatively uncommon can log-on to the My Cancer Genome tool and, within a few minutes, find the latest information about the clinical implications of the gene.

The physician can then recommend treatment that is currently available or refer the patient to a clinical trial that is testing a targeted therapy for that gene. Patients also can go to the VICC Web site and learn more about their cancer by using the online tool.

"Once we test a patient's tumor for specific mutations, the test results stay in a patient's medical record, so as new treatment options become available for each mutation, our physicians will have that information at their fingertips," Mia Levy, assistant professor of biomedical informatics and medicine and cancer clinical informatics officer for VICC, said in a statement.

The first two forms of cancer featured on VICC's My Cancer Genome information tool are lung cancer and melanoma.

"In the future, the Web site will have more content, not just on lung cancer and melanoma, but also on colon cancer, breast cancer, thymic carcinoma, and other malignancies," Pao said. "We hope eventually to make the data searchable so that people can type in their type of cancer and their tumor mutations to find clinically relevant information about their specific disease. Ultimately, the Web site could become an online collaborative tool among the cancer community to accelerate the development of therapies and improve patient outcomes," Pao added.

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