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Can this app help China's forgotten cancer sufferers?



Cao and her husbands are poor agressive farmers rural China.

Like thousands of others each year, they were forced to stay in what they call "cancer hotels

The only furniture in the room is a small TV stand and two small beds. A dumpling steamer and bags of vegetables lying at the foot of her bed. The tiny space costs 2,000 yuan per month, about $ 300.

"We have to borrow money," Cao said. "What else can we do?"

The 58-year-old mother of three says she has spent $ 50,000 on radiation and chemotherapy treatment, collected from relatives and friends.

They are forced to live in Beijing because they like millions of others in China, they can not receive adequate cancer treatment closer to home, a problem exacerbated in rural provinces such as Anhui where Cao is from.

While they are from home, they are also making a profit

 Cao Ruizhe and her huband, Yao Shuping, sit in their rented hotel room, awaiting her next cancer treatment.

Thousands of patients, one oncologist

China has more cancer diagnoses than any other country in the world, with 3.8 million people in 2014 alone, according to the latest figures from China's National Cancer Center.

Given the country's massive population, challenges such as these are inevitable. What is not inevitable, however, is how many doctors are there to treat them.

There are only 29,705 oncologists in China, according to the China National Health Commission's 2017 report, an average of almost 50,000 people per specialist, which can result in wait times stretching for weeks, if not months.

But a new

The app, called Driver, was co-founded by two Harvard trained oncologists and backed financially by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka Shing, among others.

The creators want to try to help patients get treatment sooner as well as help them find out what their best treatment options are.

Cao Ruizhe in her rented hotel room, awaiting her next.

Cao Ruizhe in her rented hotel room, awaiting her next cancer treatment. ” data-src-mini=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/181015112057-02-china-cancer-app-101518-small-169.jpg” data-src-xsmall=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/181015112057-02-china-cancer-app-101518-medium-plus-169.jpg” data-src-small=”http://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/181015112057-02-china-cancer-app-101518-large-169.jpg” data-src-medium=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/181015112057-02-china-cancer-app-101518-exlarge-169.jpg” data-src-large=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/181015112057-02-china-cancer-app-101518-super-169.jpg” data-src-full16x9=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/181015112057-02-china-cancer-app-101518-full-169.jpg” data-src-mini1x1=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/181015112057-02-china-cancer-app-101518-small-11.jpg” data-demand-load=”not-loaded” data-eq-pts=”mini: 0, xsmall: 221, small: 308, medium: 461, large: 781″ src=”data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhEAAJAJEAAAAAAP///////wAAACH5BAEAAAIALAAAAAAQAAkAAAIKlI+py+0Po5yUFQA7″/>

An app for cancer

The concept is relatively simple. Patients get a biopsy and send that to one of two labs that driver runs, either in the US or in China.

"We present to the patient what their standard of care is, and what they are eligible for," said Will Polkinghorn, one of the app's co-founders. The app tells users where they can find those treatments.

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Cao Ruizhe may have been living in Anhui

Polkinghorn says: "The problem with cancer treatment is limited to whatever diagnosis and treatment options are presented to them at any hospital."

19659003] "Any one doctor, any one, by definition, does not have all the options," Polkinghorn said.

The National Cancer Institute in the US and the National Cancer Center in China have signed up as partners.

"It can help the patient so that some patients don 'No need to come to big cities for treatment,' said Dr. Ma Xioali, deputy director of the Hematology & Oncology Center at Beijing Children's Hospital.

Driver has also created a parallel app for oncologists, called Drive for Clinic, so they can easily access the latest research and treatment options through colleagues around the world

"Our goal for Drive for Clinic to become the Bloomberg terminal for the cancer doctor," Polkinghorn said.

'A good beginning'

But there's a catch: The app will initially be limited to affluent users because of its price tag. The full service costs $ 3,000, plus a monthly subscription fee of $ 20.

Additionally, the treatment options are not available China, nor does it reduce the cost.

Driver's.

Driver's

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But they say it's a start and indicative of a broader model, aggregating global oncological knowledge into an app on your smartphone.

Dr. Stephen Chan Lam, associate professor in the Department of Clinical Oncology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, believes that the app is "a good beginning" but that it has not matured enough.

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He said that although the technology is a "smart idea," it is truly end up benefiting only a few patients, not the masses. [19659003] "Most of the cancer patients are currently seeking treatment with Chinese or Hong Kong patients." The app may help on some rare tumors or those patients who have already tried all the standard treatments, "he said. By this app "


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