Imagine how difficult it was to track and gather knowledge about certain medical conditions before the introduction of computers. Now specialists can log into central databases for cancers and genetic disorders and see how other persons in the same situation as their patients were treated and medicated, as well as how their illnesses progressed. These databases offer an abundance of information for researchers who are looking for specific information or tissue samples for treatment research as well.

Although databases have been developed for several medical conditions, it was not until recently – August – that there was an announcement of a mesothelioma database. For years mesothelioma has been one of the most difficult cancers to diagnose, research, investigate and treat, but now there is a database that can save countless hours and will become an invaluable tool in the treatment of mesothelioma.

The Centers for Disease Control and The National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety joined together to create the National Mesothelioma Virtual Bank that collects, stores and distributes tissue samples, blood samples and DNA samples. In addition to this, the bank collects demographics on patients, including symptoms, treatment and recurrences. All of this information can be used to perform focused research on mesothelioma.

Researchers can perform further exploration of cures and treatments by using the information collected in the database. The database is also made available to patients and the public. Only general demographics are listed in the database, and patient confidentiality is not breached. It is completely optional for patients to have their medical information placed in the database, and each participant must provide informed consent to his or her doctor.

The National Mesothelioma Virtual Bank has already collected multiple samples and demographics and the numbers grow with each new diagnosis. All of the information gathered in the database will further research into mesothelioma and hopefully, through this research, more effective treatments of this terminal disease will be found.