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Roupen Odabashian: How cancer treatment decisions are made
Apr 30, 2024, 12:12

Roupen Odabashian: How cancer treatment decisions are made

Quoting Roupen Odabashian on LinkedIn:

“This is another article on how cancer treatment decisions are made. It is putting together different sources of data to come up with an answer for a complex equation that we are still figuring out its solution.”

He further added:

“Have you ever wondered how clinical decisions are made in oncology and cancer treatment? The process is similar to solving a math problem in principle.

Consider this equation: 1 + 3 + 5 = 9. By examining these numbers, you can combine them to find a solution. Similarly, oncologists gather various types of data from multiple sources to determine the most effective treatment for each patient.

Key Data in the Cancer Treatment Equation:

1. Patient History

Understanding the patient’s personal and family medical history is crucial. Some cancers have a predictable inheritance pattern, while others may show a higher familial predisposition without clear genetic causes. This historical insight is vital not just for the patient but also for their family members.

2. Labs and Blood Work

Before administering chemotherapy, it’s essential to assess the baseline function of critical organs like the liver, kidneys, and lungs. This evaluation helps determine the suitability of chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation therapy. Moreover, certain chemotherapies require specific enzymes to be at certain levels to avoid toxicity, necessitating specific tests.

3. Imaging

Imaging is a pivotal component that guides treatment choices, whether involving chemotherapy, radiotherapy, immunotherapy, or surgery. It reveals the extent of the cancer: its localization, spread, and whether it affects lymph nodes.

4. Genetic and Molecular Testing

This forms a critical part of the precision medicine approach. Each cancer has unique genes and markers, guiding oncologists in selecting the most effective targeted therapies. Typically, these tests are performed in specialized labs external to the clinics, often resulting in delays and miscommunication due to the fragmentation of the healthcare system.

Despite technological advances, integrating this data into electronic medical records remains a challenge, leading to potential losses of critical information.

After Data Integration: The Tumor Board

Once the data is compiled, oncologists—including medical, surgical, and radiation specialists—convene at a tumor board to discuss and decide on the treatment strategy for each patient.

These meetings underscore that cancer treatment decisions are a collective effort, influenced by the vast amount of data generated daily and the improved patient outcomes from multidisciplinary discussions. To better understand the tumor board process read my article here.

The Challenge of Keeping Current

Oncology is a fast-evolving field. Despite the vast amount of research, many cancers remain incurable, highlighting the ongoing need for innovative research. The sheer volume of new publications can overwhelm oncologists, particularly those in community settings who treat various cancer types, unlike academic oncologists who often specialize in a single type.

The Solution: Spiraldot

Spiraldot Health streamlines cancer care by consolidating all relevant patient information into a single user interface, significantly aiding physicians in their clinical decision-making. It uniquely integrates lab results, imaging, and molecular tests from both electronic medical records and external companies, creating a comprehensive view of each patient’s medical background.

Key Features of Spiraldot:

  • Enhanced EMR Integration: Spiraldot’s advanced integration capabilities with electronic medical records (EMR) systems set it apart in the field of oncology. By pulling specific and relevant data such as patient history, blood work, and imaging directly to the oncologist, Spiraldot simplifies the data management process. This targeted approach allows oncologists to access the most pertinent information without being overwhelmed by the vast amount of non-relevant data typically found in EMR systems. This efficiency not only saves time but also ensures that the focus remains on essential information that directly impacts patient care, leading to better-informed treatment decisions and improved patient outcomes.
  • The Genomics Tab: This critical feature stores genomic data, often sourced from external companies such as Caris, Guardant, and Tempus. These insights are vital for personalized cancer treatment strategies.
  • The Publication Tab: Keeping up with the vast amount of oncological research published daily is a daunting task for oncologists. Here, AI assists by guiding oncologists to the latest clinical trials and literature, helping them make informed treatment decisions.
  • The Clinical Trials Tab: Often, clinical trials represent the best treatment option, particularly for cancers lacking effective standard treatments. This tab connects physicians to current clinical trials, whether conducted within their own institution or externally, ensuring patients have access to the latest therapeutic options.

Tumor Board Integration:

As highlighted earlier, the tumor board is crucial for collaborative clinical decision-making in cancer care. Spiraldot simplifies this process by integrating directly with electronic medical records, making it easier to schedule and manage tumor board meetings. This ensures all providers have access to the same comprehensive data set, facilitating more informed discussions and decisions.

Streamlining Tumor Board Scheduling: The Economic Impact of Spiraldot

By streamlining the tumor board process, Spiraldot significantly impacts the economics of cancer care management. Many cancer centers currently lack a streamlined process for scheduling patients for tumor board reviews, often leading to inefficiencies and time wastage.

Spiraldot’s seamless integration with electronic medical records (EMR) simplifies and expedites the process of adding and scheduling patients for tumor boards. This integration enables healthcare workers to schedule patients more efficiently, reducing administrative burdens and freeing up time for direct patient care. C

onsequently, Spiraldot not only enhances the efficiency of healthcare delivery but also translates into substantial economic benefits for healthcare institutions by optimizing resource utilization and reducing overhead costs associated with patient scheduling and management.

In Conclusion:

Cancer care is inherently complex and requires a multifaceted approach. Oncologists often lack the tools necessary to manage all aspects of patient care effectively. Spiraldot addresses this gap by providing a unified platform that not only simplifies data management but also enhances clinical decision-making through advanced AI algorithms.

This integration ensures that oncologists have the most relevant and up-to-date information at their fingertips, ultimately bridging the gap between standard care and innovative clinical trials, which could significantly benefit patients. If you’re interested in learning more about how tumor boards enhance patient care, please refer to my previous article in the link here.

Source: Roupen Odabashian/LinkedIn and Roupen Odabashian/LinkedIn

Dr. Roupen Odabashian is an accomplished Internal Medicine Physician and Hematology/Oncology Fellow with a profound commitment to advancing healthcare through clinical practice, research, and technology. Currently based at the prestigious Karmanos Cancer Institute, Dr. Odabashian is actively involved in pioneering cancer treatments and conducting clinical research.

In addition to his clinical work, Dr. Odabashian is a multifaceted healthcare professional. He hosts podcast at OncoDaily, engaging with leading experts in oncology to share valuable insights with the medical community.

Dr. Odabashian also contributes his expertise as an advisor at Spiraldot Health and Mesh AI, supporting innovative ventures in healthcare technology and collaborative scheduling to combat clinician burnout. With his diverse roles and unwavering dedication, Dr. Odabashian exemplifies a commitment to driving positive change in healthcare.