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Cohort profile: prescriptions dispensed in the community linked to the national cancer registry in England
  1. Katherine E Henson1,
  2. Rachael Brock1,
  3. Brian Shand1,
  4. Victoria H Coupland1,
  5. Lucy Elliss-Brookes1,
  6. Georgios Lyratzopoulos1,2,
  7. Philip Godfrey3,
  8. Abigail Haigh3,
  9. Kelvin Hunter4,
  10. Martin G McCabe1,5,
  11. Graham Mitchell3,
  12. Nina Monckton3,
  13. Robert Robson3,
  14. Thomas Round6,
  15. Kwok Wong1,
  16. Jem Rashbass1
  1. 1 National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service, Public Health England, London, UK
  2. 2 Department of Behavioural Science and Health, ECHO (Epidemiology of Cancer Healthcare and Outcomes) Group, University College London, London, UK
  3. 3 NHS Prescription Services, NHS Business Services Authority, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  4. 4 Department of Medicine (Cambridge University), Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, UK
  5. 5 Institute of Cancer Sciences, Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, Core Technology Facility, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
  6. 6 Department of Primary Care and Public Health Sciences, King’s College London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Katherine E Henson; katherine.henson{at}


Purpose The linked prescriptions cancer registry data resource was set up to extend our understanding of the pathway for patients with cancer past secondary care into the community, to ultimately improve patient outcomes.

Participants The linked prescriptions cancer registry data resource is currently available for April to July 2015, for all patients diagnosed with cancer in England with a dispensed prescription in that time frame.

The dispensed prescriptions data are collected by National Health Service (NHS) Prescription Services, and the cancer registry data are processed by Public Health England. All data are routine healthcare data, used for secondary purposes, linked using a pseudonymised version of the patient’s NHS number and date of birth.

Detailed demographic and clinical information on the type of cancer diagnosed and treatment is collected by the cancer registry. The dispensed prescriptions data contain basic demographic information, geography measures of the dispensed prescription, drug information (quantity, strength and presentation), cost of the drug and the date that the dispensed prescription was submitted to NHS Business Services Authority.

Findings to date Findings include a study of end of life prescribing in the community among patients with cancer, an investigation of repeat prescriptions to derive measures of prior morbidity status in patients with cancer and studies of prescription activity surrounding the date of cancer diagnosis.

Future plans This English linked resource could be used for cancer epidemiological studies of diagnostic pathways, health outcomes and inequalities; to establish primary care comorbidity indices and for guideline concordance studies of treatment, particularly hormonal therapy, as a major treatment modality for breast and prostate cancer which has been largely delivered in the community setting for a number of years.

  • oncology
  • epidemiology
  • primary care
  • health informatics

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  • Contributors Conception and design of the work: KEH, RB, JR, LE-B, GL, MGM and TR. Acquisition and pseudonymisation of the data: KEH, BS, PG, AH, KH, GM, NM and RR. Analysis of the data: KEH, VHC and KW. All authors made substantial contributions to the interpretation of the findings. All authors contributed to drafting the manuscript or revising it critically for important intellectual content and approved the final version submitted. All authors have agreed to be accountable for all aspects of the work.

  • Funding GL is supported by a Cancer Research UK Advanced Clinician Scientist Fellowship (C18081/A18180).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement Collaborations can be proposed to the National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service via Enquiries for data access can be made to Public Health England’s Office for Data Release (

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