ASCO Demonstrates Prototype for CancerLinQ™

Jun 25, 2013

New “Learning Health System” will transform cancer care


W. Charles Penley, MD, Chair of the Conquer 

Cancer Foundation and an oncologist at 

Tennessee Oncology, which contributed data to 

the prototype, participated in the National Press 

Club demonstration.

ASCO has completed the prototype of CancerLinQ™, the Society’s ground-breaking health information technology (HIT) initiative to achieve higher-quality, higher-value cancer care with better outcomes for patients. The prototype demonstrates, for the first time, the feasibility of an HIT-based learning health system, which the Institute of Medicine has defined as critical to the future of the nation’s health care system. The prototype was shown in the spring at the National Press Club, in Washington, DC, during an ASCO-hosted panel discussion on big data in cancer care and at ASCO’s Annual Meeting.

With CancerLinQ, ASCO is developing a knowledge-generating computer network that will collect and analyze cancer care data from millions of patient visits, together with expert guidelines and other evidence, to generate real-time, personalized guidance and quality feedback for physicians.

“Today, only 3% of patients who participate in clinical trials are able to contribute to advances in treatment. CancerLinQ will transform cancer care by unlocking the wealth of information contained in the other 97% of data, enabling every patient to help improve cancer care,” said Sandra M. Swain, MD, Immediate Past President of ASCO. Prototype uses real-world breast cancer data ASCO built the CancerLinQ prototype to demonstrate the feasibility of such a system and to provide lessons about the challenges involved in full-scale implementation. The prototype includes “de-identified” (anonymous) data from 100,000 patients with breast cancer who were treated at leading cancer care institutions around the United States.

To build the prototype quickly, ASCO linked together several open-source IT applications. Together, they encompass CancerLinQ’s planned core functions, including:

  • Real-time data collection. The prototype can successfully accept any cancer care data, in any standard, directly from electronic health records and other sources. Data can range from genomic profiles to lab tests, and even physicians’ notes.

  • Clinical decision support. The prototype can generate individualized guidance on the care of any given patient with breast cancer, based on automated, machine-readable versions of ASCO’s expert breast cancer guidelines. The full CancerLinQ system, when implemented, will also provide guidance based on the collective experiences of other similar patients.

  • Data mining and visualization. The prototype allows exploration of an extensive database of information on the care of patients with breast cancer.

  • Quality feedback. The prototype can provide immediate feedback on physicians’ performance against 10 quality measures from ASCO’s Quality Oncology Practice Initiative (QOPI®).

“With a learning health system like CancerLinQ, we’ll be able to advance the treatment and prevention of cancer simply by caring for our patients,” said ASCO President Clifford A. Hudis, MD. “The prototype is a major step toward that vision. Although we have years of hard work ahead of us, it’s now clear that we have the ability to collect data and provide feedback, enabling the delivery of cutting-edge, state-of-the-art care to patients everywhere.”

The prototype will ultimately include data on more than 133,000 cases from oncology practices across the country. ASCO plans to publish its lessons learned over the coming year and will use them to inform its development of the full CancerLinQ system.

CancerLinQ is supported by the Conquer Cancer Foundation of the American Society of Clinical Oncology; for more information, please visit

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