Tumor Boards: A Virtual Shift

When a patient is undergoing a cancer treatment, their doctor or oncologist may say something like, “we are discussing your scans, results, and/or case at our tumor board to get a treatment recommendation.”

So, what exactly is a tumor board and what purpose does it serve? A tumor board is essentially a group of doctors and other healthcare professionals with various backgrounds and clinical specialties that meets regularly, usually on a weekly basis, to discuss cancer cases and share individual knowledge. The main goal of the board is to help determine what the best treatment and care plan for a patient is.

Earlier this year at HIMSS19, Dr. James Weese, who is the vice president of Aurora Cancer Care at Advocate Aurora Health, shared his perspective on how to assess the success of a precision medicine program and molecular tumor boards. Molecular therapy is "currently most effective in advanced disease," Weese explained. The value of a molecular tumor board is that it, "provides interpretation, advice and saves time," helping move treatment toward drugs that work and avoidance of drugs that don’t.


These boards are an essential part of a cancer patient’s care process, but the ‘traditional’ tumor board may soon become a thing of the past, simply because getting all of these professionals, such as pathologists, oncologists, and advocates together in one place takes both time and effort.

Researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center found a way to bring the time it takes a tumor board to access a patient’s treatment from 14 days to just 4 days by utilizing cloud technology.

The researchers combined both historical results with genetic data to help the software compute the best possible treatment outcomes. According to researchers, utilizing this technology allowed the virtual tumor boards to make tumor assessments for more than 2,000 clinical trials, more than 1,000 cancer drugs and nearly 200 genetic biomarkers associated with targets known to be amenable to treatment.

As virtual decision making in healthcare becomes more commonplace and continues to gain traction, more data points can be accessible for both patient matching and analytics, allowing for faster treatment plans for all.

While decisions made at both traditional and up and coming virtual tumor boards are not always successful, they do help a lot of cancer patients when it comes to treatment plans and their outcomes.

Here at Extract it is our mission to help hospitals and other organizations simplify their workflows to increase data accuracy and deliver better patient care, safely and securely. Interested in learning more about how our HealthyData platform can help your organization? Reach out today.

About the Author: Taylor Genter

Taylor is the Marketing Specialist at Extract with experience in data analytics, graphic design, and both digital and social media marketing.  She earned her Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Marketing at the University of Wisconsin- Whitewater. Taylor enjoys analyzing people’s behaviors and attitudes to find out what motivates them, and then curating better ways to communicate with them.