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National Cancer Institute   U.S. National Institutes of
Rapid Response Surveillance Studies
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 Methodologic Issues
 Cancer Treatment & Outcomes
 Monitoring Screening Practices
 Health Behaviors & Risk Factors
 Linking Databases
 Technical Aspects of Registry Operations

Linking Databases

Studies that link data from multiple databases are a valuable resource in cancer surveillance and in the evaluation of factors influencing cancer trends and quality of care. These linkages greatly expand the availability of data on a variety of health-related issues that can be examined in light of cancer registry data. Investigators may link databases to examine changes in patterns of care, the use of cancer tests and procedures, and the costs of cancer treatment, as well as to enhance case finding and follow-up for persons with cancer.

RRSS investigators are conducting studies to:

  • examine treatment patterns;
  • examine the electronic transfer of medical records to a state registry;
  • explore new linkages of SEER cancer databases with other health-related databases;
  • use existing insurance databases to analyze the patterns of breast cancer screening and treatment among patients in a variety of health care settings;
  • compare two linked databases to study variation in treatment patterns of breast cancer;
  • examine the association of Medicaid status with late-stage cancer;
  • compare total charges for care provided in hospitals to charges attributed to cancer among terminal patients.

Registries Funded to Conduct these Studies

New Mexico
Northern California Cancer Center (SF-OAK)
Seattle (Puget Sound)

Key Findings

Among breast cancer patients, postmastectomy breast reconstructive surgery was not related to the patient's tumor size, marital status, or race (black versus white), and declined with increasing age at diagnosis and with poverty rate (of the census tract of residence).

Treatment charges for inpatient and outpatient charges increase with extent of disease and decrease with age.

Future Use

Continue the linkage of databases to increase their utility for cancer research. Encourage the use of electronic transfer of data to decrease the cost of data collection and increase their timeliness.


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