Researchers from the University of Missouri (MU) are developing a cyber-informatics database of up-to-date information about lymphedema, a chronic condition common among breast cancer survivors.

The database, which is being developed by Chi-Ren Shyu, director of the MU Informatics Institute, and his informatics team, in collaboration with Jane Armer, professor in the MU Sinclair School of Nursing and director of the American Lymphedema Framework Project, is being designed to be a single, searchable online resource that will provide immediate access to data, best practices, literature, and research.

“The development of an informatics depository for a data set holding key information for all patients with lymphedema of any cause offers enormous potential for answering research questions that are difficult to study with small data sets with varying criteria for lymphedema,” said Armer. “This cyber-database will help us unlock the door to more immediate access to the latest information on evidence-based treatment and risk-reduction.”

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Through an automated feature, the database will not only be able to pull research findings and new information from scientific journals and association web sites, but also incorporate real-time, anonymous patient data to help practitioners understand how patients in different areas of the country are affected by lymphedema and its treatments.

“We want to bring researchers, medical professionals and care providers together to improve patients’ health,” said Shyu. “Merging all of the data into one virtual space and discovering clinically significant knowledge from the haystacks of data will make cutting-edge research and treatments available to patients sooner.”

Lymphedema is a chronic condition which commonly occurs in breast cancer survivors and is the second-most dreaded effect of treatment, after cancer recurrence.