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BC Smartphone Innovation aids Ovarian Cancer Surgeons and Researchers

June 25, 2012

Found in News

VANCOUVER, B.C. – A locally-created new smartphone app is enabling ovarian cancer surgeons in B.C. to record details directly from the surgical suite to the provincial database where ovarian cancer tumour information is stored, investigated and tracked— the Cheryl Brown Ovarian Cancer Outcomes Unit. The innovation has been made possible thanks to a donor to the BC Cancer Foundation.

Dr. Sarah Finlayson, a gynaecological surgeon and researcher with the Ovarian Cancer Research Program (OVCARE) at the BC Cancer Agency and Vancouver Coastal Health and assistant professor in UBC Faculty of Medicine, spearheaded the idea to improve the database of research information, which supports current and future research studies.

The app, developed by the Cheryl Brown Ovarian Cancer Outcomes unit, a division of the OVCARE program, prompts surgeons to enter specific surgical details, which then populate directly into the Outcomes Unit, saving time and increasing accuracy.

“As soon as the case is finished, I can pick up my iPhone and enter all of the vital information from the procedure we just performed,” says Dr. Finlayson. “This takes approximately five minutes to complete versus a lengthy chart review process, which would then need to be manually entered into the system.”

Patient data is secured though a coding that scrambles unique patient identifiers through the data transmission.  The end result is critical data that is approved and anonymized is immediately available for leading-edge ovarian cancer research initiatives.

Doug Gray is a proud supporter of OVCARE; he believes in the program’s scientists and clinicians and their ability to transfer knowledge from lab findings to clinical treatment.

“My wife, Diana, was diagnosed with a rare sub-type of ovarian cancer, ovarian clear cell carcinoma (OCCC), in May of 2008. She has been in remission for three and a half years since she completed her surgery and chemotherapy and lives a full life. I was interested in giving to the BC Cancer Foundation to support a sophisticated clinical database project. I saw this project as an opportunity to augment clinical research knowledge of ovarian cancer that could benefit patients and possibly my wife going forward,” says Gray.

The new app is a part of a comprehensive enhancement to the Cheryl Brown Ovarian Cancer Outcomes Unit, which will upgrade technology, software and functionality, so that customized patient data can be inputted from the entire health team and extracted and analyzed in “real time” for clinical treatment. This could enhance patient care while providing a superb clinical database for research purposes.

Gaining new understandings about the biology of ovarian cancer and patient responses to treatment hinges on the completeness and accuracy of the data stored in the outcomes unit and gynaecologic cancer tissue bank, which lay the groundwork for breakthroughs in care. To date, this type of data has supported a significant number of research projects, including a landmark study which identified ovarian cancer subtypes.

Gray believes this app and further enhancements will “continue B.C.’s international leadership and positive reputation as leaders in the field of ovarian cancer scientific and clinical research.”


Ovarian Cancer Research Program (OVCARE) is a multidisciplinary research program involving clinicians and research scientists in gynaecology, pathology, and medical oncology at Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute, the BC Cancer Agency, and UBC. The OVCARE team is considered a leader in ovarian cancer research, breaking new ground in better identifying, understanding, and treating this disease. Their seminal paper in PLOS (Public Library of Science), which outlines the discovery that ovarian cancers are a group of distinct diseases, has been embraced by the global research community who are taking the BC approach to ovarian cancer research. Visit www.ovcare.ca; www.vchri.ca; www.bccancer.bc.ca;www.med.ubc.ca

The BC Cancer Foundation is the bridge that connects philanthropic support and research breakthroughs in cancer knowledge.  As the fundraising partner of the BC Cancer Agency and the largest charitable funder of cancer research in this province, we enable donors to make contributions to leading-edge research that has a direct impact on improvements to cancer care for patients in British Columbia. We fund with the goal of finding solutions. Visit www.bccancerfoundation.com to make a donation or to learn how you can make a difference in the lives of those affected by cancer.


Allison Colina, Communications Specialist
BC Cancer Foundation

Lisa Carver, Snr Regional Communications Leader:
Vancouver Coastal Health/VCH Research Institute
604 319-7533