Using blockchain technology for such purposes may seem like a no-brainer — but the logistics make the move more complicated. The concept of using blockchain for non-financial transactions is a difficult one, largely because it takes a decentralized network of thousands people running powerful software to create and maintain the blockchain. Running that software comes at a cost. And for a medical blockchain, it is unclear who would take on the responsibility and expense of running the software that cryptographically seals the information into a block. (One possible solution: Perhaps medical researchers could run the software as a type of “payment” for their access to the anonymous, population-level data that could push their research forward.)

While the many possibilities that blockchain advances are certainly exciting, experts such as venture capitalist Scott Amyx caution against overselling what blockchain can do. “Blockchain directly will not detect or prevent cancer,” he stresses. The technology is fundamentally simply “a form of cryptography or security that addresses mutual authentication in a trustless, decentralized network.”

Even as he warns against getting too excited, though, he goes on to list even more possibilities for using blockchain in the fight against breast cancer, or cancer in general. “Through the use of wearables, medical wearables, diet and fitness apps, and clinically administered data, [blockchain] could authenticate and maintain a ledger of your holistic lifestyle to determine your chances of developing breast cancer,” Amyx says.

For the one in eight American women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, and for the 40,000 lives that breast cancer will take this year, even an idea that still has kinks to work out is enough to create hope.Blockchain is not a cure, but it has the potential to be an important technological tool in the fight against breast cancer. In the end, it’s up to human innovators to put that tool to good use.