National Lung Cancer Audit

Accessing lung cancer audit data for innovative and important research

Posted by Neal Navani on Tuesday 01 August, 2017

Neal Navani, clinical lead, and Natasha Wood, audit project manager, describe the benefits of using National Lung Cancer Audit and Public Health England (PHE) data and how to access the data.

The National Lung Cancer Audit (NLCA) has published comprehensive data on lung cancer patients in England and Wales since 2005. The primary purpose of the data collection has been to drive service development and quality improvement. However, the data collection has also resulted in significant research collaborations with important clinical impact.

For example, data from the audit were used to develop an NLCA score for predicting outcomes after thoracic surgery for lung cancer. The NLCA has also provided data on the role of surgery for small cell lung cancer and the importance of high procedure volume for lung cancer surgery.

The data in the NLCA now incorporates information from a variety of sources in the NHS.

Neal Navani, NLCA clinical lead

For all patients diagnosed since 2015, the NLCA moved to a new method of data collection. Previously the audit had relied on manual input of data into a bespoke database. Now, the data for the NLCA annual report is obtained from PHE's National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service (NCRAS). NCRAS is a population-based registry of all cases of cancer diagnosed or treated in England. NCRAS routinely collects both patient and tumour level information to build a rich picture of the cancer patient pathway.

The data in the NLCA now incorporates information from a variety of sources in the NHS such as the systemic anti-cancer therapy dataset and radiotherapy dataset. This provides an excellent new resource for answering important research questions in lung cancer care. For example, the resource may be used to model trial recruitment patterns and the impact of chemotherapy on 30-day mortality has already been examined in the SACT dataset.

If you would like more information or advice about cancer data or how to request access to PHE or NLCA data sets, please visit the ODR website or contact the ODR by email at We would love to see the data from NCRAS and NLCA be used for further innovative and important research as well as continuing to drive quality improvement.

Neal Navani, NLCA clinical lead and Natasha Wood, project manager with NCRAS

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