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Health Care Financ Rev. 1996 Fall;18(1):237-46.

Use of Medicare data to identify incident breast cancer cases.

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Health Care Financing Administration, Baltimore, MD 21244, USA.


Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) data from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) provide reliable information about cancer incidence. However, because SEER data are geographically limited and have a 2-year time lag, we evaluated whether Medicare data could provide timely information on cancer incidence. Comparing Medicare women hospitalized for breast cancer with women reported to SEER, Medicare data had high specificity (96.6 percent), yet low sensitivity (59.4 percent). We conclude that Medicare hospitalization data can identify incident cases for cancers that usually require inpatient hospitalization. For cancers that often only receive outpatient treatment, such as breast cancer, additional Medicare data, such as physician bills, are needed to understand the entirety of treatment practices.

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