Will chemotherapy destroy my chances of getting pregnant? Will a cold cap save my hair from falling? Will Yoga help me sleep better? While these are just a small sample of questions that cancer patients ask their oncologists, most of them also want to know what other cancer patients are doing to cope with similar issues.

San Jose and Gurugram-based, Scry Analytics has launched an analytics platform VoCP (Voice of Cancer Patients), that provides answers to such questions from cancer patients themselves, and also provides the healthcare community of doctors, nurses, and pharmaceutical firms with intelligence that can help them arrive at more informed, meaningful decisions while treating patients.

‘Connecting dots’

“Over the last two years, we have gathered nearly 16 million conversations of cancer patients who chat and write about their experiences and ask others about theirs on 46 unrestricted forums and social sites in the US, UK, Canada and Australia, and analysed it using our AI-based proprietary algorithms to build predictive and prescriptive products and decision support systems for healthcare professionals. More important, all the information on the platform is vetted and validated by an expert team of oncologists based in the US,” Alok Aggarwal, founder and CEO of Scry Analytics told BusinessLine .

Using VoCP, an analysis of 7,027 patient conversations regarding Xeloda, a cancer medicine, revealed that 172 of the interactions were in association with angina attacks, which is a less-known side-effect of the drug. Another analysis of 6,377 conversations among breast cancer patients regarding fertility maintenance showed that 116 patients stopped Tamoxifen (chemotherapy drug) early, to explore pregnancy options. “This platform connects the dots in patient conversations and establishes relationships among cancer drugs and their side-effects as well as supportive care so that patients and care-givers can learn from others who have had similar experiences. ” said Aggarwal.

Boosting confidence

The company has been publishing the results of several studies emanating out of the platform, which are being reported in conferences such as, ASCO Breast Cancer Symposium, San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, Stanford’s Bio-Medicine conference, and are receiving attention from patient advocates, pharmaceutical and medical device companies. Why should a patient look up online platforms like VoCP, when oncologists are available? “While patients should definitely rely on doctors and hospitals for treatment of cancer, they often need a lot of supportive care, which doctors, nurses and hospitals fail to provide. For instance, breast cancer patients who lose a lot of hair because of chemotherapy, have many questions about ‘cold caps’ they wear to reduce hair loss, which doctors and nurses are unable to answer. That’s partly why these patients turn to each other and survivors,” said Aggarwal. VoCP is also meant to provide a forum for Indian and South Asian patients whose needs are different from those in developed countries.