Sharing information on all kinds of cancers could lead to breakthroughs in treatment.
It is hoped that a huge database that stores details of all the UK’s cancer cases could help to usher in a new era of personalised care for people with the disease.
Public Health England revealed the new initiative this week, explaining that it will collate information on every one of the 350,000 tumours detected each year. This will make it the world’s largest database on cancer.
The national register utilises data from every acute NHS trust, as well as having the potential to display 11 million historical records so that medical professionals can see how the disease is changing over the years.
It has taken five years to create and will be updated monthly with information on tissue samples, screening programmes, radiotherapy and chemotherapy so patterns can be displayed showing how various different types of cancer respond to treatment.
Cancer Research UK’s Emma Greenwood said the move is "great news".
"It means we have all the UK’s cancer information in one place, making us well-equipped to provide the highest quality care for every cancer patient," she added.
Jem Rashbass, national director of disease registration at Public Health England, told the Times the database is "game-changing".
"This puts us at the forefront of cancer care for the next two decades," he added, telling the BBC that "in five years we’ll be sequencing cancers and using therapies targeted to it".
The NHS is increasingly moving away from paper records towards digitising patient data and this shows the extent to which it could be beneficial over the coming decades. By carrying out document scanning, medical professionals can have instant access to information from anywhere in the country, rather than having to request that it is sent to them by post or fax.
It comes after an estimated £260 million was set aside by the health service for e-prescribing, which is aimed at using technology to prevent medicines being incorrectly handed out to patients in hospitals.
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