Massey Cancer Center Eyes Higher Cancer and Mortality Rates With SAS Analytics
January 27, 2022
Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Massey Cancer Center is working with SAS
Health to use health analytics to power vital research into higher cancer and
mortality rates among low-income and vulnerable populations. Massey’s
breakthrough approach to cancer research includes engaging with the community to
find new data, which makes disadvantaged populations a partner in confronting
the cancer disparities that affect them. This creates a data challenge that
analytics leader SAS is well-equipped to handle.
Massey is Virginia’s pre-eminent cancer research center and one of 71 National
Cancer Institute (NCI) designated cancer centers in the United States. Robert A.
Winn, M.D., Director and Lipman Chair in Oncology at VCU Massey, understands
that data and analytics will be critical to ensuring all people have access to
and receive the right levels of care.
“To understand why certain groups of people are being hit harder by different
types of cancer, we need data that represents those people and the means to make
sense of it,” said Winn. “This information is critical to empowering underserved
patient populations, improving health care delivery and ensuring equal access to
People with low or no income, lower educational attainment levels and other
social disadvantages often bear a greater burden of disease than the general
population. They may lack health insurance and have limited or no access to
effective health care. They are less likely to have routine examinations that
can identify cancer earlier.
Cultivating community data to improve cancer research
Massey’s Office of Health Equity and Disparities Research team engages with
community partners and citizens to collect data and gain a deeper understanding
of how cancer manifests in vulnerable and lower socioeconomic populations. For
patients and their communities, this creates systems where the creation and use
of new evidence is done with them rather than conducting research about them.
With the help of SAS for health and academic research, this data can be
integrated with other data sources to create a more holistic and meaningful view
of cancer's effects.
Data may include:
Risk factors associated with cancer, such as aging, weight, tobacco and
alcohol use, sun exposure, air and water quality, family history, diet and
Locations of health care facilities and services in proximity to Massey
Cancer statistics, including number of cases, morbidity, mortality, quality of
life after treatment, screening rates and stage at diagnosis.
Disparities, including by geography (urban versus rural), race and ethnicity,
Deploying health analytics to power new research and a national network
SAS and Massey will create the Massey Research Analytics Hub, a secure,
cloud-based platform using SAS® Viya® on Azure with easy-to-use visualizations
of massive amounts of quantitative and qualitative data collected from different
sources and different systems. This “one-stop shop” will empower researchers to
create and share new breakthroughs and encourage collaboration across the cancer
research ecosystem to transform health outcomes.
SAS will speed research efforts by automating manual, time-consuming data
management, analytical and data visualization processes. The Hub will allow
researchers to communicate and translate data and discoveries, making evidence
of risk factors, disparities, along with effective treatments and interventions
equally accessible, understandable and usable by all stakeholders. The Hub will
soon add AI- and machine learning-powered analytics for greater and deeper
insights into cancer data.
forward, Massey has a bold vision of a shared network used by all NCI designated
cancer centers that can expand and coordinate research into cancer disparities
“SAS can help Massey scale and operationalize its vision and propel it to be a
national leader in drug discovery, cancer treatment and health equity,” said
Steve Kearney, Medical Director at SAS.
A legacy of health research and partnerships
SAS is a leader in the health analytics market, delivering solutions that
improve population health and advance patient outcomes in the age of digital
health. In addition to advancing cancer research through things like the CEO
Roundtable on Cancer’s Project Data Sphere®, SAS has been at the forefront of
COVID research in areas such as antivirals, testing and health inequities.
SAS supports health care customers in 49 countries, including 100% of Fortune
Global 500 health and life science companies. In addition, SAS is used at more
than 3,000 educational institutions, including many academic medical centers.