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Chemotherapy is cancer treatment that achieves its antitumour effect through the use of antineoplastic drugs that inhibit the reproduction of cancer cells by interfering with DNA synthesis and mitosis.

The chemotherapy cluster consists of those data elements recommended for collection as best practice when the patient is administered chemotherapy as part of the course of treatment for cancer. The chemotherapy cluster collects information on the chemotherapy agent or protocol, the number of cycles administered and the start and finish dates of treatment.

Information on the agent and number of cycles of chemotherapy treatment is required to evaluate patterns of care, the effectiveness of different treatment modalities and treatment by patient outcome. Collecting the start and finish dates will enable an estimate of the duration of chemotherapy and the time interval from diagnosis to treatment.

The use of standard definitions and formats supports the consistent collection and management of data and enables the integration of data from different sources. It provides a common language facilitating the interpretation and analysis of results, data linkage for statistical purposes, longitudinal studies and patient patterns of care and outcome studies. These results may then inform professional guidelines and training, quality assurance and the planning and evaluation of cancer control activities, potentially improving outcomes for patients.

Metadata items in this Data Set Specification

Below is a list of all the components within this Dataset Specification.
Each entry includes the item name, whether the item is optional, mandatory or conditional and the maximum times the item can occur in a dataset.
If the items must occur in a particular order in the dataset, the sequence number is included before the item name.

Data Elements
Reference Data Element Data Type Length Inclusion #
No data elements have been assigned to this grouping.


Guide for use:

Capturing chemotherapy agents and cycles can be problematic. Chemotherapy agents are administered in treatment cycles, either singly or in a combination regimen or protocol of two or more chemotherapy drugs. Treatment may be administered prior to surgery or radiotherapy to reduce the tumour burden (neoadjuvant), concurrent with radiotherapy, following surgery or radiotherapy (adjuvant) or on its own. Regimens may be complex involving many drugs given at different times during a course of treatment. In addition, if a patient has an adverse reaction, one of the agents in a combination regimen may be changed.

Furthermore, chemotherapy regimens are often expressed as acronyms identifying the agents used in combination. However, the letters used are not consistent across regimens, and in some cases (for example, "BEACOPP") the same letter is used to represent two different treatments. Finally, treatment protocols may be specific to the treatment centre.

Standard protocols are available online at eviQ Cancer Treatments Online ( This website is powered by the Cancer Institute NSW and endorsed by Cancer Australia, and provides current, evidence based, best practice cancer treatment protocols and information. It is recommended that only regimen or protocol names listed in eviQ be used to record chemotherapy agents; in all other cases, record the full generic name of each individual chemotherapy agent for each course of treatment.


Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2010. National health data dictionary. Version 15. National health data dictionary series. Cat. no. HWI 107. Canberra: AIHW

American College of Surgeons 2002. Facility Oncology Registry Data Standards (FORDS), 2009 revision. Commission on Cancer

Standard Cancer Treatment and Management Pathways Program, Cancer Services and Education Division, eviQ Cancer Treatments Online. Cancer Institute NSW


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