SKIN-COBRA (Consortium for Brachytherapy data Analysis) ontology: The first step towards interdisciplinary standardized data collection for personalized oncology in skin cancer

Skin Cancer

Lancellotta V, et al. J Contemp Brachytherapy 2020.


PURPOSE: The primary objective of the SKIN-COBRA (Consortium for Brachytherapy data Analysis) ontology is to define a specific terminological system to standardize data collection for non-melanoma skin cancer patients treated with brachytherapy (BT, interventional radiotherapy). Through ontological characterization of information, it is possible to find, isolate, organize, and integrate its meaning.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: SKIN-COBRA is a standardized data collection consortium for non-melanoma skin patients treated with BT, including 8 cancer centers. Its ontology was firstly defined by a multicentric and multidisciplinary working group and evaluated by the consortium, followed by a multi-professional technical commission involving a mathematician, an engineer, a physician with experience in data storage, a programmer, and a software expert.

RESULTS: Two hundred and ninety variables were defined in 10 input forms. There are 3 levels, with each offering a specific type of analysis: 1. Registry level (epidemiology analysis); 2. Procedures level (standard oncology analysis); 3. Research level (radiomics analysis). The ontology was approved by the technical commission and consortium, and an ad-hoc software system was defined to be implemented in the SKIN-COBRA consortium.

CONCLUSIONS: Large databases are natural extension of traditional statistical approaches, a valuable and increasingly necessary tool for modern healthcare system. Future analysis of the collected multinational and multicenter data will show whether the use of the system can produce high-quality evidence to support multidisciplinary management of non-melanoma skin cancer and utilizing this information for personalized treatment decisions.