Updated Overview of the SEER-Medicare Data: Enhanced Content and Applications

Lindsey Enewold, Helen Parsons, Lirong Zhao, David Bott, Donna R. Rivera, Michael J. Barrett, Beth A. Virnig, Joan L. Warren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


Background: The National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER)-Medicare-linked database was first created almost 30 years ago. Over time, additional data have been added to the SEER-Medicare database, allowing for expanded insights into the delivery of health care across the cancer continuum from screening to end of life. Methods: This article includes an overview of the current SEER-Medicare database, presenting potential users with an introduction to how the data can facilitate innovative epidemiologic and health services research studies. With a focus on the population 65 years and older, this article presents descriptive data on beneficiary demographics, cancer characteristics, service settings, Medicare coverage (eg, Parts A, B, C, and D), and use (number of services or bills) from 2011 to 2015. Results: From 2011 to 2015, 857 056 cancer patients and 601 470 population-based noncancer controls were added to the database. The database includes detailed tumor characteristics and clinical assessments for cancer cases, and demographics and health-care use (eg, hospitals, outpatient facilities, individual providers, hospice, home health-care providers, and pharmacies) for both cases and controls. Although characteristics varied overall between cases and controls, sufficient cancer-specific matched controls are available. Roughly 60% of cases were enrolled in fee for service at cancer diagnosis. The annual average number of claims per case was 60.7 and 92.3 during the year before and after cancer diagnosis, respectively, and 127.5 during the year before death. Conclusions: The large sample size and diverse array of data on cancer patients and noncancer controls in the SEER-Medicare database make it a unique resource for conducting cancer health services research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-13
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the National Cancer Institute - Monographs
Issue number55
StatePublished - May 1 2020

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Updated Overview of the SEER-Medicare Data: Enhanced Content and Applications'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this