Identifying Cancer Incidence and Clinical Research Sites 2

According to the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), 8.2 million people die from cancer worldwide each year. And that number is set to rise. To address the cancer epidemic, the UICC organizes World Cancer Day on February 4 of each year. The day was created “to raise awareness about the disease and to develop practical strategies to address the cancer burden.”

The 2015 World Cancer Day tagline is “Not Beyond Us,” which is intended to highlight that solutions to cancer care are within reach. Four key areas of focus support this theme. For each of the four areas, UICC defines targets to achieve by the year 2025 and the challenge to achieving these targets. UICC also describes how we can overcome the challenge to meeting their targets for each focus area. Learn more about each of the focus areas here:

Cancer Incidence and Clinical Research

Click to view U.S map illustrating cancer incidence and locations of enrolling cancer clinical trials.

Honoring World Cancer Day at Lilly Clinical Open Innovation

To honor World Cancer Day, we created an interactive map illustrating the U.S. incidence of 19 different cancers and the locations of recruiting, interventional clinical research studies within those cancers. You can filter the map to show incidence of one or all 19 cancers combined, as well as by male, female, or both genders. The map was created using three open, public data sources, the National Cancer Institute’s State Cancer Profiles incidence dataset, the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2013 U.S. Counties Polygon Shape Data, and Lilly COI’s API (The Lilly COI API).

Here are some basic instructions for using our Cancer Incidence & Clinical Research in the U.S. interactive map:

Map Filters

Use the cancer filter to view incidence rates and related research sites for one or all listed cancers. In addition, use the gender filter to filter the incidence data maps for one or both listed genders (but not the accompanying research site pins).

Incidence Data and Map Shading

The shaded areas represent county-by-county cancer incidence for the selected cancer(s) and gender(s). If you click on a shaded area, county-level statistics appear.

Study Sites, Trials, and Map Pins

The map pins provide information about where clinical trials are occurring. For example:

  • Pins mark the locations of clinical research study sites recruiting for interventional trials – for the selected cancer(s).
  • If an area has more than one recruiting study site, the pin contains a number representing the total sites.
  • When you click a pin with a number, the map zooms in for a more detailed view of study sites in that location. Alternatively, when you click a pin without a number, details about clinical trials at that individual research site appear.

Using BioPortal to Relate Cancer Incidence and Clinical Trials

Associating clinical trials to cancer incidence data wasn’t quite as easy as we thought it would be. The advanced search section of BioPortal ontologies proved to be a tremendous help as we sought to connect the cancer incidence data with related clinical trials. BioPortal is “the world’s most comprehensive repository of biomedical ontologies” and a project of The National Center for Biomedical Ontology. We used BioPortal to gather a list of Medical Subject Headers (MeSH) terms and synonyms for each of the cancers we had incidence data for. Once we had that list for each cancer, we were able to find listings of all related trials.

What did you notice while interacting with the map? What other kinds of open data mashups might be valuable? How might this map be made more useful? Share your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter.


  1. Pingback: Identifying Cancer Incidence and Clinical Research Sites | CLINYS – operational excellence for life science companies

  2. This is a very interesting tool and a valuable resource to pharmaceutical companies and sponsors involved in researching cancer. It can show where incidents of cancer are occurring and in whom; this data can be used to determine where research would best be conducted in the United States.

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