Background Improvements in cancer survival have resulted in an increasing population of cancer survivors who are managed in primary care. A partnership was established between the National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service and NHS Business Services Authority to link national cancer registration data to community dispensed prescriptions data.
Aim We describe the linkage between these two datasets and the potential value of the resulting data resource.
Method Community prescriptions data was collected for April – July 2015 initially. Pseudonymised prescriptions data was supplied to NCRAS for linkage at an individual patient level.
Results 1.68 million individuals, with a history of cancer and having received a prescription April–July 2015, were identified in both datasets. This was 6% of all individuals prescribed medication in that time. 90,840 patients were newly diagnosed with cancer and had prescriptions in this time period: 90% of all patients diagnosed April–July 2015. Comparison of the two datasets identified data quality issues which must be considered, and these will also be presented.
Conclusion This linked resource has the potential to become largest of its kind and is thus crucial to primary care research. Prescribed medication and its correlation with symptom profiles or co-morbidity at time points relative to diagnosis, will offer unique insights into prescribing patterns and potential associations with earlier diagnosis. Full exploitation of this linked data offers the potential for an evidence base for empowering survivors, updating clinical follow-up guidelines and educating primary care physicians who manage the long-term care of cancer survivors.
- © British Journal of General Practice 2018