Dr. Lillian Siu recently co-led a study published in Nature Medicine highlighting the potential of "big data" to transform cancer care and enable the development of more effective personalized cancer treatments. (Video: UHN)

There is no denying that cancer is an incredibly complex disease – it is always changing, evolving, and adapting.

To understand how a cancer grows, spreads, and kills, researchers need to examine a lot of data from a large amount of patients.

Dr. Lillian Siu recently co-led a study published in Nature Medicine highlighting the potential of "big data" to impact cancer care.

"Big data" refers to large amounts of clinical, molecular, and pathology data collected every day at cancer centres that can be analyzed to reveal trends and patterns.

Hospitals, laboratories and research facilities around the world store huge amounts of this data from the cancer patients they see. But this information is currently held in isolated "silos," which often results in missed opportunities for information sharing that could help to make advances in personalized treatment.

The Global Alliance for Genomics and Health (GA4GH) is a non-profit organization established in 2013 to create a common framework for the responsible, voluntary and secure sharing of patients' clinical and genomic data.

There are hundreds of cancer institutes in more than 40 countries involved with the Global Alliance.

Dr. Siu is the Co-Chair of the Clinical Working Group Cancer Task Team of GA4GH and in the video above she discusses how the sharing of genetic information from millions of cancer patients around the world could advance care and treatment of the disease.

To learn more, check out the study in Nature Medicine.

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