New Cancer Database Will Benefit Patients
December 8, 2010 –Every patient treated at Georgetown’s Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center who signs an informed consent now has information about his or her specific cancer and treatment outcomes entered into the center’s new cancer database.
Known as G-DOC (short for Georgetown Database of Cancer), the system’s data will one day help oncologists find treatments specifically targeted to individual patients.
“This is an initiative that is directly applicable to notion of personalized medicine,” says Lombardi director Lou Weiner. “We are taking a catch phase and beginning to reduce it to practice in a very real way.”
The purpose of G-DOC is to “demonstrate that collecting and then analyzing molecular and clinical data in tandem will permit us to make more informed decisions about patient management,” Weiner says.
Weiner had long been frustrated with the fact that despite the molecular revolution being in place for decades, many physicians evaluate their patients the same way they did in the early part of the last century.
After taking a medical history from patients, doctors perform a physical exam, and may then order additional laboratory or radiological tests. This becomes the information upon which the physician bases a treatment plan.
“It is idiosyncratic,” Weiner says. “The picture of health and disease is highly edited through the perspective of the doctor. Physicians don’t take full advantage of knowledge gathered over the last 30 to 40 years on the molecular features of the diseases we are evaluating.”
The solution Weiner created and helped shape from the time he became director of the center three years ago is now up and running.
G-DOC is a part of the systems medicine paradigm at Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC).
“Systems medicine is an approach that will allow health care providers to understand the interplay between genetics and the environment in such a way that one day, they will be able to predict who is at greatest risk, rather than simply react to symptoms,” says Howard J. Federoff, executive vice president for health sciences at GUMC and executive dean of its School of Medicine. “It holds promise to enable broad applications on individualized primary prevention.”