BARCELONA, April 26, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Cancer experts have reported how a Varian Medical Systems (NYSE: VAR) supported project in the area of distributed learning is helping to harness the power of "big data" for the benefit of patients. Speakers at a Varian-hosted symposium at the 3rd ESTRO (European Society for Therapeutic Radiation Oncology) forum in Barcelona detailed the importance of gaining knowledge from each treatment and applying that knowledge to help benefit the next patient.
With only about 3% of all cancer patients enrolled in clinical trials, 'Big Data' offers the opportunity to potentially pool and analyze all treatment information, helping to better understand cancer and customize care for the individual patient. By identifying outcomes versus cost of treatment, it can also help to determine the best value treatments.
"The idea behind using 'big data' is to make sure we learn new knowledge from every patient we have ever treated and apply that knowledge for the next patient," said Andre Dekker, PhD, from the MAASTRO Clinic in Maastricht, Netherlands. "The problem is that there is an overload of data to process which is beyond human capabilities to analyze. Working with Varian's expertise in knowledge-based learning systems, our team is building a distributed learning system to overcome current barriers to sharing."
Andre Dekker gave examples of such learning systems in practice, including collaboration where a treatment model learned in the Netherlands is improving treatments in Australian hospitals. "We are gaining tremendously valuable knowledge in the Netherlands that changes the way radiotherapy patients are treated in Australia today," he said.
Professor Vincenzo Valentini, MD, from Gemelli ART (Advanced Radiation Therapy) in Rome, Italy, explained the importance of learning from clinical data. "In radiation oncology we have the opportunity to learn both through clinical trials and through data mining," said Prof. Valentini. "We have our daily practice stored on computer systems and this enables us to learn rapidly and implement greater knowledge in all our systems."
Tim Fox, formerly head of radiotherapy physics at Emory University School of Medicine Atlanta and now working at Varian Medical Systems, presented on knowledge gained from image data using the Velocity™ system, which can create a map of all imaging and treatment information, integrating it into a comprehensive and powerful dashboard to help clinical teams make more confident decisions. "This allows historically unconnected data from different systems, in different points of time, and in different positions to be transformed into clinical knowledge," said Dr. Fox. "Combining this powerful data with seamless integration into a department's IT infrastructure can help optimize productivity and efficiency."
Neil Madle, Varian Medical Systems, +44 7786 526068
About Varian Medical Systems
Varian Medical Systems, Inc., of Palo Alto, California, focuses energy on saving lives by equipping the world with advanced technology for fighting cancer and for X-ray imaging. The company is the world's leading manufacturer of medical devices and software for treating cancer and other medical conditions with radiotherapy, radiosurgery, proton therapy and brachytherapy. The company supplies informatics software for managing comprehensive cancer clinics, radiotherapy centers and medical oncology practices. Varian is also a premier supplier of X-ray imaging components, including tubes, digital detectors, and image processing software and workstations for use in medical, scientific, and industrial settings, as well as for security and non-destructive testing. Varian Medical Systems employs approximately 6,800 people who are located at manufacturing sites in North America, Europe, and China and approximately 70 sales and support offices around the world. For more information, visit http://www.varian.com or follow us on Twitter.
SOURCE Varian Medical Systems