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01.12.2018 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

BMC Cancer 1/2018

The accuracy of chemotherapy ascertainment among colorectal cancer patients in the surveillance, epidemiology, and end results registry program

BMC Cancer > Ausgabe 1/2018
Mark A. Healy, Arden M. Morris, Paul Abrahamse, Kevin C. Ward, Ikuko Kato, Christine M. Veenstra



Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) public research database does not include chemotherapy data due to concerns for incomplete ascertainment. To compensate for perceived lack of data quality many researchers use SEER-Medicare linked data, limiting studies to persons over age 65. We sought to determine current SEER ascertainment of chemotherapy receipt in two relatively large SEER registries compared to patient-reported receipt and to assess patterns of under-ascertainment.


In 2011–14, we surveyed patients with Stage III colorectal cancer reported to the Georgia and Metropolitan Detroit SEER registries. 1301/1909 eligible patients responded (68% response rate). Survey responses regarding treatment and sociodemographic factors were merged with SEER data. We compared patient-reported chemotherapy receipt with SEER recorded chemotherapy receipt. We estimated multivariable regression models to assess associations of under-ascertainment in SEER.


Eighty-five percent of patients reported chemotherapy receipt. Among those, 10% (n = 104) were under-ascertained in SEER (coded as not receiving chemotherapy). In unadjusted analyses, under-ascertainment was more common for older patients (11.8% age 76+ vs. < 9% for all other ages, p = 0.01) and varied with SEER registries (10.2% Detroit vs. 6.8% Georgia; p = 0.04). On multivariable analyses, chemotherapy under-ascertainment did not vary significantly by any patient attributes.


We found a 10% rate of under-ascertainment of adjuvant chemotherapy for resected, stage III colorectal cancer in two SEER registries. Chemotherapy under-ascertainment did not disproportionately affect any patient subgroups. Use of SEER data from select registries is an important resource for researchers investigating contemporary chemotherapy receipt and outcomes.
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