Cancer app=e-patient empowerment?

MGH is in on this effort, part of the burgeoning effort to give patients a bigger role in decisions about their own care. For more, see the

According to an AP report, the app, called Cancer Commons  will “bring together patients, physicians and scientists regardless of where they work, live or went to college in hopes that the so-called wisdom of the crowd can lead to the best therapies. ” Dr. Keith Flaherty, a clinical researcher  at MGH said the approach collects research finding and produces treatment options.

Though Flaherty treats only melanoma, oncologists across the country are called on to treat all kinds of cancers. They don’t have time to troll through obscure journals or websites to become experts on every variation of the disease, Flaherty says. An app like Cancer Commons lets those physicians plug into the knowledge of researchers like himself directly, he says.

“It’s to empower that doctor with the same information we have access to.” The hope is that patients also will be better able to advocate for themselves.

As the service expands, Tenenbaum also plans to make it possible for physicians and patients to add their own data on what has worked and what hasn’t. While researchers cannot rely on one person’s experience alone as a measure of success or failure, Flaherty says researchers could sift a large enough collection of anecdotes for leads.


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