IBM forms partnership with UICC to build cancer registries

Collaboration begins in Sub-Saharan Africa to help close the gap in cancer prevention and treatment

Building cancer registries to fight disease in developing nations (courtesy: IBM)

IBM is working with the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) to create the world's largest and most comprehensive clinical database on cancer patients by building cancer registries in developing nations.

The effort will begin in Sub-Saharan Africa, where less than 1% of the population is covered by a cancer registry. With more than a billion people in the region, the new effort will improve cancer registration and, in time, treatment for patients in Africa while enriching knowledge about cancer for patients across the globe.

Cancer registries provide governments with incidence and mortality data so that effective policies for cancer control can be developed, implemented and evaluated. They also provide doctors with information about patient outcomes to help identify tailored treatment options.

IBM Africa's Chairman Gary Cohen announced that IBM would donate Big Data and analytics technology to the collaboration at the World Cancer Leaders' Summit in Cape Town, South Africa. 'IBM's objective is to help find ways to level the field of access through innovation and knowledge, so that we can bridge the divide between the discovery of cancer and the delivery of treatment with positive outcomes – regardless of geography,' he said.

The initiative will begin in two to three countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, continue throughout the region and extend to Southeast Asia and Latin America. The IBM collaboration supports UICC's work with the Global Initiative for Cancer Registries in low- and middle-income Countries (GICR).

IBM's objective is to help find ways to level the field of access through innovation and knowledge

According to the World Health Organisation, about 70% of all cancer deaths occur in developing nations. Experts predict that the Sub-Saharan region alone will see more than an 85% increase in its cancer burden by 2030.

Collecting data about the incidence of cancer in many countries in the region is achieved through a paper-based system, which can consume hours to gather information for a single patient. All of the US and Canada; 94% of Western Europe and 80% of Australia is covered by a cancer registry, according to leaders of the GICR initiative.

'IBM has always contributed its best assets and thinking to the world's biggest challenges, and there are few more serious than cancer,' said Dan Pelino, General Manager, IBM Global Public Sector. 'By helping UICC build cancer registries, we can shorten the time between discovery and treatment to save lives.'

IBM joined UICC in 2012 to help the organisation address the increasing data collection and analysis needs of the cancer community. The firm will now collaborate with the UICC and its GICR partners to plan and design the cancer registry in Sub-Saharan Africa, including the services, hardware, software, technical support and expertise.