OBJECTIVES AND SETTING: Conflicting results from studies using electronic health records to evaluate the associations between type 2 diabetes and cancer fuel concerns regarding potential biases. This study aimed to describe completeness of cancer recording in UK primary care data linked to hospital admissions records.
DESIGN: Patients aged 40+ years with insulin or oral antidiabetic prescriptions in Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) primary care without type 1 diabetes were matched by age, sex and general practitioner practice to non-diabetics. Those eligible for linkage to Hospital Episode Statistics Admitted Patient Care (HES APC), and with follow-up during April 1997-December 2006 were included.
PRIMARY AND SECONDARY OUTCOME MEASURES: Cancer recording and date of first record of cancer were compared. Characteristics of patients with cancer most likely to have the diagnosis recorded only in a single data source were assessed. Relative rates of cancer estimated from the two datasets were compared.
PARTICIPANTS: 53 585 patients with type 2 diabetes matched to 47 435 patients without diabetes were included.
RESULTS: Of all cancers (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer) recorded in CPRD, 83% were recorded in HES APC. 94% of cases in HES APC were recorded in CPRD. Concordance was lower when restricted to same-site cancer records, and was negatively associated with increasing age. Relative rates for cancer were similar in both datasets.
CONCLUSIONS: Good concordance in cancer recording was found between CPRD and HES APC among type 2 diabetics and matched controls. Linked data may reduce misclassification and increase case ascertainment when analysis focuses on site-specific cancers.