Developers in the US have created mobile applications which make use of public data to help detect, prevent, diagnose and treat cancer.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) launched a competition for developers last year asking them to submit applications that can help both patients and clinicians in the ‘cancer control continuum’.

The continuum has been used in the US since the 1970s to describe the various points in the cancer-care process. The ONC has selected two winners, both of whic will each receive US $20,000.

The Ask Dory! application is an online platform that allows people to search for cancer clinical trials. It was developed by the private US company Applied Informatics LLC and makes use of data from the government’s clinical trials database.

The other winner, My Cancer Genome, was developed by the Vanderbilt University Medical Center and draws information from the National Cancer Institute to give patients information about treatment options based on mutations of their genomes.

Two other applications selected as semi-finalists include a mobile tool to help patients make decisions based on recommendations formed with reference to recorded family history and demographic variables.

The other, Cancer App by mHealth Solutions, draws information from three different sources to provide individuals with strategies for reducing their risk of developing cancer.

The ONC’s special assistant for innovations, Wil Yu, said the competition ‘catalysed’ on expertise both within and outside of healthcare.

“We seek breakthrough problems to nuanced issues; some are ready for the marketplace and some are prototypes but all will have a great potential to benefit Americans.

“[The winners] are examples of results that innovation challenges can incentivise and deliver – we’re really excited to see their impact.”