September 13, 2022

Cancer registries and sarcoma research

The number of sarcoma research studies that use the two largest U.S. cancer registries is increasing, but over one-third of studies that asked the same research question reported conflicting findings.

by Leigh MacMillan

The NCDB (National Cancer Database) and SEER (Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results) are the two largest cancer registries in the U.S. These datasets can be particularly useful when studying cancers with low incidence, such as sarcoma — cancer that begins in bone and soft tissue. 

Joshua Lawrenz, MD, and colleagues analyzed the use of the NCDB and SEER registries in musculoskeletal sarcoma research from 2001-2020. They report in Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research that the number of studies published per year is increasing, having tripled during 2016-2020 compared with 2011-2015. Interestingly, they found that over one-third of studies that asked the same research question reported discordant key findings. They also report clinically important data discrepancies when comparing their institutional orthopaedic oncology dataset with nationally reported information.

The researchers note that the NCDB and SEER remain essential for some questions in sarcoma research, such as incidence, hospital-level variable assessment, and patterns of care over time. They caution against using such databases to compare treatment strategies.

Other authors of the study include Samuel Johnson, Katherine Hajdu, Andrew Chi, Gabriel Bendfeldt, Hakmook Kang, PhD, Jennifer Halpern, MD, Ginger Holt, MD, and Herbert Schwartz, MD.