Senior explores solutions in cancer incidence monitoring and research

June 19, 2017
In 2025, the World Health Organization estimates that out of the 20 million anticipated new cancer cases, 80% will be in low and middle income countries (LMICs) like Ghana.

In addressing cancer, scientists and researchers depend on data to help understand, treat and prevent the disease. However, in most LMICs there is little or no data available to properly understand local cancer situations. This makes it exceedingly difficult to implement tailored treatment and prevention measures.

Hudson Lekunze ’17 immediately jumped on the opportunity to address this problem after a chat with his advisor, Dr. Elena Rosca, faculty in Ashesi’s Computer Science Department.

“It is really sad to know that one major hindrance to cancer healthcare [from research and clinical trials] is the lack of readily available data,” said Hudson.  “I have enormous interests in data mining and analysis so implementing an effective way to collect this data and interpret it visually and analytically was a thrill, but more importantly filling a huge gap in cancer research locally.”

[Screenshot from Hudson’s application for capturing data]

In developed countries, cancer registries are often set up to collect and process data, an invaluable asset in researching cancer. This is in stark contrast to many LMICs, where cases go unreported or unmonitored. In Ghana, there are only two designated cancer registries (in Accra and Kumasi); these centers alone cannot capture data for the entire country.

Guided by his advisor Dr. Elena Rosca, Hudson built a web-based application that helps streamline data collection across Ghana and also provides visualization and analyses for decision making. The app, which will be deployed to health centers and practitioners, will improve data collection and help to fill the gap created from lack of cancer registries.

“We hope that in the long term this application will be implemented across multiple health care facilities and through peer reviewed publication move Ghana into the group of countries with adequate data monitoring,” he explains. “This will promote the implementation of cancer prevention methods and encourage the participation of our hospitals and doctors in international clinical trials.”

Currently, Hudson and Dr. Rosca are working with oncologists in hospitals across the country to test the application. Hudson continues to explore his interests in the Internet of things and data mining in implementing simple solutions to big problems.

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