In recent years the management and interdisciplinary treatment of oncological patients has become extremely complex due to the progress made in diagnosis and therapy. As a result, the knowledge required to treat patients can no longer be simply memorized or manually filed. Computer technology provides the ideal instrument for organizing, saving and analyzing data from head and neck tumor patients. The authors have prepared a computerized database to meet the following needs: ease of use, even for non computer savvy users; minimal ambiguity for data entry; use for both clinical and scientific purposes; possibility to create a network with similar database at other Centers; possibility to expand to include image management. The archive is based on a personal computer with an INTEL 80486 microprocessor, 40 Mb RAM, DOS 6.0. and Windows 3.1. The software includes four main routines: a) formulation and management of tables where oncological data are gathered; b) entry and management of patient-related clinical data; c) statistical processing for epidemiological and oncological research and; d) management of basic computer services. In clinical practice the database allows the following: a) preparation of a monthly chart of check-ups, b) rapid tracking of patients lost to followup, c) printout of a summary of the clinical history of each patient at the time of check-up and rapid updating at the end of the examination, d) automatic production of forms such as discharge letters and reports to be shared with related services (i.e. medical oncology, radiotherapy). In addition, the database is a powerful, versatile research tool which can promptly provide all sorts of oncological data and can automatically prepare tables, diagrams, correlations, survival curves. The system was developed from 1993 to 1995 and has been operative, with a few minor modifications and updates, since 1995. Today the database contains more than 1200 oncological cases and the system is used daily by medical and paramedical personnel alike. Approximately 15 new cases are entered a month and 80 cases updated after follow-up.
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