The first major report using world-first systemic anticancer treatment (SACT) data has been published today by Lancet Oncology. It shows that age, general wellbeing and other factors can affect 30-day mortality following chemotherapy for breast and lung cancer.

The Public Health England (PHE) SACT data gives us new insights about the real-world chemotherapy treatment of patients in the NHS in England which was previously only available from clinical trials. In 2014 alone the dataset included over 2 million records for over 160,000 different patients.

This database is also one way in which additional data could be gathered from promising medicines recommended for the new Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF), though the type of data gathered for the CDF will vary for different medicines.

Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Now, said:

"These new data provide an interesting first glance at the effectiveness of cancer treatments in the real world. But we mustn’t jump to conclusions at this early stage, and any slight variances in 30-day mortality from chemotherapy across England, which could be due to a number of factors, will now need to be investigated further.

“The SACT database offers real promise in our ability to monitor and improve the quality of healthcare in England, and particularly in assessing the effectiveness of new drugs. But if it is to be put to the greatest use, the database now needs to be even more complete and accurate.

“Non-compliance by hospitals remains the biggest stumbling block for a variety of reasons, and if we are to make the most of this real-world data, this must be remedied to provide a full picture of our healthcare delivery.

“This important database could, for example, now become critical to the Cancer Drugs Fund as it gathers patient data for new medicines, and we very much look forward to its continued use.”