Krebs / cancer

Big data as a weapon against cancer?

Diagnosis: cancer. About 500.000 people receive this diagnose every year in Germany, and the disease often ends deadly. Now big data solutions are about to enable an effective treatment.

Because each cancer disease is individual, the therapy represents a major challenge for the medical profession. In addition, genetic preconditions have an influence on the success of a therapy. This means that an individual treatment has to be developed for each patient.

Individual therapies through big data

In order to find the optimal therapy and to adjust it again and again, enormous amounts of data are collected during the course of the disease, which must then be evaluated carefully. The National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) in Heidelberg is now using database platforms to process and manage that data. “We are thus trying to identify therapies that are specifically tailored to the individual molecular profile of a patient,” says Prof. Christof von Kalle, Head of Oncology at the NCT.

The right treatment with just a few clicks

Due to the technical user interface, treatment sequences can now be visualized. This makes it easier to identify abnormalities and to create parallels to other cases. The optimal therapy is then to be found with only a few mouse clicks.


“Just a few years ago this would have been an effort comparable with a doctoral thesis – we would have needed weeks or months,” says Christof von Kalle.

Big data in research

However, the technique not only helps in therapy, but also in research. The data analyzes allow patients with similar profiles to be identified and then recruited for clinical trials. The resulting findings then flow directly back into the treatment – a cycle that ideally contributes to the reduction of death rates. In the NCT Heidelberg, more and more cancer patients can be treated with individual treatment approaches with the help of big data, and the treatment success can be improved.

Source of title picture: Evernine