There is almost no one in the world who hasn’t been affected by cancer in some way. Whether directly as someone battling the disease, or through a friend or loved one, cancer is still tragically pervasive.
Fortunately, there is a steadfast and active effort to find new treatments and hopefully a cure for the disease. There is currently a flurry of activity from tech companies working to bring new approaches and ideas to the fight against cancer. On one hand, tech companies are helping drive medical innovation either through new kinds of treatments or medical devices. Beyond that, innovation is happening in the area of information and communication.
One example of the latter is Belong, an app that helps cancer patients get access to the information and support they need in their fight against the disease. The app has multiple features all designed to help users navigate the overwhelming journey that is the fight against cancer. It allows them to connect with others fighting the disease, get access to medical professionals, and manage important information and documents. Additionally, Belong is connected to the National Cancer Institute’s database of clinical trials, and the app alerts users as soon as a relevant experimental treatment that matches their profile becomes available
Now, Belong has released some really interesting information from its platform that shows that men and women tackle certain cancers in very different ways. It classified three types of users: Passive Users, knowledge Driven Users, and Proactive Patients. The categories describe whether a user simply follows the advice provided by medical professionals, those that primarily seek information on their own and use it at some critical moment, or the most active users who constantly question the advice they are being given and work on their own to find information and take action.
The data point that stood out to me the most concerned breast cancer. While breast cancer is most commonly associated with women, who still make up the largest share of patients, the disease nevertheless also affects men as well. Remarkably, Belong’s data shows that men are far more likely to be Proactive Users, seeking out information and questioning the advice they are given, while women breast cancer patients are more likely to passive.
However, with colon cancer, the results are flipped. Women are more likely to be proactive, while men are more likely to be passive.
Belong isn’t drawing conclusions from the information at this time, but it provides an interesting glimpse into the way various individuals tackle these diseases. Beyond that, I think the most important conclusion to be drawn is that these platforms, by their very nature of serving as a connected hub for people to learn about and discuss cancer, are going to provide all kinds of insights into the disease that could potentially help fight it.
Of course, it goes without saying that Belong is facing an uphill battle. Both in the sense of the challenge of cancer itself, and also in the competitive sense with a number of players working to bring technology into the fight against the disease. But this is such a pressing issue that it we must commend all of the players working to fight the disease or help cancer patients in some way. In that sense and light of the data Belong has already uncovered, it’s clear that the app has already achieved a great success.