Twiggy Forrest has launched a universal database for cancer patients to share their medical records.

The Universal Cancer Databank is designed to allow cancer patients to upload their health records and assist in treatment and research around the world.

Assistant professor in medicine at Harvard Medical School Nikhil Wagle said more data means better outcomes.

“I think if patients have the ability to share their data, we will be able to accelerate discovery and that will lead to cures faster,” he said.

“Looking across a large database, if you found all of the patients that responded to a particular drug and you found that their tumours all had something in common, that might tell you something about how to treat those tumours in future patients.”

Australian mining magnate and billionaire philanthropist Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest launched the project, saying: “The key to resolving these dreadfully challenging cancers is data. We have the capital, we now need the data”.

Former British politician Baroness Tessa Jowell is battling brain cancer and has become the first volunteer to hand over her medical data.

“It is my hope that through my cancer journey and sharing of my data, we will be able to develop better treatments for cancer and speed up the discovery of new ones,” she said.

Mr Forrest wants the Universal Cancer Databank to be up and running within the next few years, and has pledged to cover the initial costs.

He concedes privacy concerns will dissuade some people, and that governments may need to help.

“This will not suffer from lack of funding [but] it will be challenged by governments unravelling their own laws in order to collaborate universally,” he said.