5 Apps for Breast Cancer

By Lori Castle, Editor in Chief — October 21, 2013

"When going through breast cancer treatments, having a great support system is so important. There will be days where you need to talk or need a pick-me-up to help you through the hard times," said Giuliana Rancic via email to Mobile Enterprise.

The celebrity recently went through her own battle with the disease and documented the journey on her reality show "Giuliana & Bill." Since then, she has become a spokesperson for the cause, and in honor of October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Rancic made an appearance in New York to help launch CureDiva.com.

The site is a personalized lifestyle solutions online shop for women facing breast cancer and offers a high-end shopping and community platform that provides support for women at every breast cancer treatment phase.

The launch follows the bigger trend of eHealth and mHealth enabling better communications and collaboration among doctors and other providers, and with patients, along with real-time access to relevant data, information and a host of resources anytime, from anywhere for all stakeholders.

mHealth Apps
According to the FDA, industry estimates are that 500 million smartphone owners worldwide will be using a healthcare app by 2015, and by 2018, 50% of the more than 3.4 billion smartphone and tablet users will have downloaded mobile health applications. This includes healthcare professionals, consumers, and patients.

Last month, the regulatory agency issued guidance for developers on mobile medical apps saying in a release, "Mobile apps have the potential to transform healthcare by allowing doctors to diagnose patients with potentially life-threatening conditions outside of traditional healthcare settings, help patients manage their own health and wellness, and also gain access to useful information whenever and wherever they need it."

Not all apps will be reviewed by the FDA, but those that are, will be assessed "using the same regulatory standards and risk-based approach that the agency applies to other medical devices." The agency has cleared about 100 mobile medical apps over the past 10 years, nearly half of which were cleared in just the past two years. The FDA does not, however, monitor app stores for healthcare related apps.

In June, Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) reintroduced the "Healthcare Innovation and Marketplace Technologies Act (HIMTA)," which establishes an Office of Wireless Health at the FDA. According to a statement from his office, the Bill is meant to cultivate a regulatory framework on wireless health issues, to develop an mHealth support program at the Department of Health and Human Services, and to further help mobile health app developers conform to current privacy standards. 

Related Apps
When it comes to breast cancer, apps range from diagnosis to counsel, fundraising and community. Here are 5 most popular examples:

  1. Early Detection Plan - From the National Breast Cancer Foundation for iOS, the best way to fight this disease is to have a plan that helps detect it in early stages. The Plan enables people to be proactive about their health by reminding them to perform routine self-exams and showing them how, and keeping them on track for scheduling clinical exams and mammograms, depending on age and health history. Also learn more about risk factors, signs and symptoms.

  2. Breast Cancer: Beyond the Shock - From the National Breast Cancer Foundation for iOS, a resource for women who have been diagnosed, a place for loved ones to gain a better understanding of the disease, and a tool for doctors to share information. App is supported by leading medical experts, doctors  and researchers around the world.

  3. Avon Walk for Breast Cancer – For Android, fundraising on the go; users can update their pages, send emails and check their progress.

  4. Susan G. Komen for the Cure - Created for the many people (both men and women) who are affected by breast cancer in the U.S.; includes wallpaper, donation and sharing functions.

  5. Clinical Breast Cancer for iPad – From Elsevier Inc. for journal subscribers, it provides the latest clinical and translational research.

Big Data Battles Breast Cancer
Another example of mHealth efforts: In June 2013, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) released preliminary results from what will be a 5-year effort to study the potential for big data to accelerate “personalized medicine.”  The institution announced previously  that it was working with technology partners Oracle, IBM, Informatica and dbMotion to create an enterprise data warehouse to foster personalized medicine.

Hardware and software is needed to bring together data from more than 200 disparate sources from across UPMC, UPMC Health Plan and outside entities, including labs and pharmacies. When the first phase is completed in the spring of 2014, many researchers, clinicians and administrators will have secure, real-time access to data and analytic tools that fit their particular interests and needs.

According to a statement, "With the foundational architecture of UPMC's new enterprise data warehouse in place, Pitt researchers recently were able to electronically integrate for the first time clinical and genomic information on 140 patients previously treated for breast cancer."

The breast cancer research was chosen as a test of the enterprise data warehouse because of the rich genomics data available and the researchers found "intriguing molecular differences"  that could provide a roadmap for developing targeted therapies in the future.


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