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IBM's Watson studying to tackle lung cancer cases

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IBM's Watson computer could be working alongside oncologists on real cancer cases by the end of the year, InformationWeek reported. The tech company ($IBM) has been collaborating with New York's Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center to help the technological wonder beef up on medical knowledge in preparation for becoming a true clinical decision-support tool.

It's pretty cool. As InformationWeek's Paul Cerrato describes, Sloan-Kettering already maintains a huge database that keeps records of treatment for some 1.2 million patients treated in the past 20 or so years. Darwin, the database, provides a massive stockpile of information on experts' treatment decisions. Yet IBM's supercomputer, Watson, could analyze structured and unstructured data from Darwin to present potential treatment options with ratings for each. In short, Watson could make it more usable.

Watson could help doctors deal with the complexity of combating cancer, which has called for increasingly personalized treatments as more new drugs and genetic information about tumors enable them to tailor therapies. With the help of one of its experts, Sloan-Kettering wants to put Watson to work on non-small cell lung cancer cases that involve more than a dozen key data elements such as size, genetics, location, and metastases status of a tumor. By the end of the year, the collaborators hope to have Watson graduate from training cases to the real thing.

This would bring Watson a long way since besting some of the best and brightest on the game show Jeopardy! more than a year ago, as the medical center makes use of the supercomputer to offer diagnostic and treatment options to its physicians and support better decision-making at the point of care.  

- see InformationWeek's article

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