In this era of information technology, big data analysis is entering biomedical sciences. But what is big data, where do they come from and what can we do with it? In this commentary, the main sources of big data are explained, especially in (head and neck) oncology. It also touches upon the need to integrate various sources of clinical, pathological and quality-of-life data. It discusses some initiatives in linking of such datasets on a nation-wide scale in the Netherlands. Finally, it touches upon important issues regarding governance, FAIRness of data and the need to bring into place the necessary infrastructures needed to fully exploit the full potential of big data sets in head and neck cancer.

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Keywords Big data, FAIR data, Head and neck cancer, Personalized medicine
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Journal Oral Oncology
Willems, S.M, Abeln, S. (Sanne), Feenstra, K.A. (K. Anton), de Bree, R, van der Poel, E.F. (Egge F.), Baatenburg de Jong, R.J, … van den Brekel, M.W.M. (2019). The potential use of big data in oncology. Oral Oncology (Vol. 98, pp. 8–12). doi:10.1016/j.oraloncology.2019.09.003