New opportunities for drug outcomes research in cancer patients: the linkage of the Eindhoven Cancer Registry and the PHARMO Record Linkage System

Eur J Cancer. 2010 Jan;46(2):395-404. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2009.09.010. Epub 2009 Oct 5.


Background: Insight into co-morbidity and treatment effects is pivotal to improve quality of care for cancer patients.

Objectives: To determine whether linkage of the Eindhoven Cancer Registry (ECR) and the PHARMO Record Linkage System (RLS) was technically feasible and to assess which patient-centric data would result from this linkage.

Methods: The ECR records data on tumour stage and primary treatment of all newly diagnosed cancer patients in the southeastern Netherlands including co-morbidity at diagnosis, whereas the PHARMO RLS includes data from multiple linked observational databases such as data on drug utilisation (for both in- and out-patients, including chemotherapy), hospitalisations and clinical laboratory measurements. All patients who lived or had been living in the overlapping area served by the ECR and the PHARMO RLS during 1998-2006 were selected for linkage which was performed with probabilistic medical record linkage.

Results: The linkage resulted in an ECR-PHARMO cohort of 40,004 cancer patients with a total of 42,767 primary tumours. The cancer patients in the linked ECR-PHARMO cohort were representatives for the cancer patients included in the total ECR during 1998-2006. Cancer patients included in the cohorts had a mean history of 5 years and a mean follow-up ranging from 2 to more than 4 years (dependent on the survival rate of the specific cancer type).

Conclusions: Linkage of ECR and the PHARMO RLS creates the possibility to study patient-centric drug utilisation, health resources utilisation and their costs, in addition to the effectiveness and safety of pharmaceuticals in routine daily practice in cancer patients.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Comorbidity
  • Databases, Factual*
  • Drug Utilization Review
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Record Linkage
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Registries*


  • Antineoplastic Agents