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New Massey initiative aims to create shared data hub for cancer centers across the U.S.

Jan 24, 2022


Massey Cancer Center is working with analytics leader SAS to power vital research into higher cancer and mortality rates among low-income and vulnerable populations.

SAS and Massey will create the Massey Research Analytics Hub, a secure, cloud-based platform with easy-to-use visualizations of quantitative and qualitative data collected from many different sources and systems. This “one-stop-shop” will empower researchers to create and share new breakthroughs and encourage collaboration across the cancer research ecosystem.

“To understand why certain groups of people are being hit harder by different types of cancer, we need data that represents those people and the means to make sense of it,” said Robert A. Winn, M.D., director and Lipman Chair in Oncology at VCU Massey. “This information is critical to empowering underserved patient populations, improving health care delivery and ensuring equal access to treatment.”

People with low or no income, lower educational attainment level and other social disadvantages often bear a greater burden of disease than the general population. They may lack health insurance and have limited or no access to effective health care. They are less likely to have routine examinations that can identify cancer earlier.

Massey’s Office of Health Equity and Disparities Research team engages with community partners and citizens to collect data and gain a deeper understanding of how cancer manifests in vulnerable and lower socioeconomic populations. For patients and their communities, this creates systems where the creation and use of new evidence is done with them rather than about them.

With the help of SAS Health: Research Insights, this data can be integrated with other data sources to create a more holistic and meaningful view of cancer's effects. Data may include:

  • Risk Factors Associated with Cancer, such as aging, weight, tobacco and alcohol use, sun exposure, family history, diet and physical activity;
  • Locations of Health Care Facilities and Services in proximity to Massey populations;
  • Cancer Statistics, including number of cases, morbidity, mortality, quality of life after treatment, screening rates and stage at diagnosis, and;
  • Disparities, including by geography (urban vs. rural), race and ethnicity, and income.

SAS will speed research efforts by automating manual, time-consuming data management, analytical and visualization processes. The Hub will allow researchers to communicate and translate data and discoveries, making evidence of risk factors, disparities, along with effective treatments and interventions equally accessible, understandable and usable by all stakeholders. Future versions of the Hub will add AI- and machine learning-powered analytics for greater and deeper insights into cancer data.

Looking forward, Massey has a bold vision of a shared network used by all NCI designated cancer centers that can expand and coordinate research into cancer disparities beyond Virginia.

“SAS can help Massey scale and operationalize its vision and propel it to be a national leader in drug discovery, cancer treatment and health equity,” said Steve Kearney, SAS medical director.

Re-purposed with permission from a press release issued by SAS.

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