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Linking health data could help stop breast cancer deaths by 2030

September 27th, 2017

This year breast cancer became the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia. Although it has one of the highest survival rates, thanks largely to research, 10 per cent of those diagnosed with breast cancer still die from the disease within five years.

The National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) invests community funding into breast cancer research with the aim to stop these women and men (8 women a day) dying from breast cancer by 2030.

To achieve this goal it’s important to understand which of those diagnosed with breast cancer are most at risk of dying from the disease. NBCF has commissioned an Australian-first research project to better understand and predict who makes up that 10 per cent.

Research to identify survival gaps

Professor David Roder is bringing together data that can improve breast cancer care and survival.

NBCF has invited Professor David Roder, Chair of Cancer Epidemiology and Population Health at the University of Adelaide to undertake a project that will provide valuable information on pockets of risk among the breast cancer population.

This information will allow a substantial leap forward in understanding which women have worse health outcomes compared to others, the detailed reasons for the disparity and what that means for the women affected.

NBCF will use the information to make data-driven decisions in setting research priority areas for breast cancer research funding. It will also provide a platform for NBCF to advocate changes in public health policy and service delivery that could help close the gap and stop deaths from breast cancer.

For example, NBCF is interested to know:

  • How to ensure every woman receives the best breast cancer care that is tailored to her needs
  • If there are gaps in care, how can they be found and what health-system changes are needed to fix them?
  • How to ensure that there is equality and that the whole community receives the highest quality of care

Linking e-health information across Australia

These critical questions and many more could be answered through the use of this first-of-its kind database linking e-health information from hospitals, cancer clinics, pathology laboratories and other sources of data. With all the information currently sitting in different places, the ability to see patterns and insights into breast cancer care and outcomes has been limited.

Professor Roder is particularly well positioned to lead this Australian-first project due to his specific expertise in epidemiology and population health, as well as his ability to access various sources of e-health data.

“This research aims to increase patient survival and improve care more generally for the many thousands of Australians affected by cancer each year and this project will be an important tool to help us achieve that.

“Through this partnership with NBCF, we hope to speed up the translation of research evidence into health practice to save and improve the lives of breast cancer patients in Australia,” said Professor Roder.