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Approved Research

Long-term outcomes for cancer patients in the UK Biobank

Principal Investigator: Dr Kathryn Puxty
Approved Research ID: 94956
Approval date: February 8th 2023

Lay summary


Using the information held in the UK Biobank we plan to explore what happens to patients following a diagnosis of cancer. We want to better understand how the cancer progresses and what other impacts the diagnosis has on the patient's life and health.


Cancer is a common condition with recent improvements in treatments leading to more patients surviving for long periods after a diagnosis. This means that there is time for the cancer cause additional problems or to impact on other aspects of their life. The follow-up data held in the UK Biobank allows us to examine how a cancer diagnosis impacts upon patients.

Although we know a lot about expected survival after a diagnosis of cancer, we are less certain about how the disease progresses and how this differs between patients. We can use information from the Biobank to track cancer progression and to undertake analysis to look at which patients are at increased risk. This might allow doctors to identify patients who would benefit from increased monitoring to detect progressive disease at an early stage and improve outcomes.

A cancer diagnosis is known to impact on the emotional health of patients, with an increased risk of depression and anxiety. The UK Biobank contains detailed information regarding mental health at the time of biobank registration and at online follow-up assessment. This will allow us to assess difference in mental health before and after a cancer diagnosis, and how this compares to other illnesses.

After a diagnosis of cancer, many patients require surgery, repeated hospital visits and/ or admissions, as well as multiple GP attendances. This is a huge burden for these patients and their families to undertake. We will use the information held in the Biobank to describe this experience and compare to other long-standing health conditions.

With an increased healthcare burden placed on patients with a new cancer diagnosis, there is a potential for this to impact on employment status. We will use the employment records held within the UK Biobank to examine changes in relation to a new cancer diagnosis and how this evolves over time.

Project Duration: 36 months

Public Health Impact: If we can provide clinicians with information on which patients have a higher risk of disease progression or negative consequences of cancer, then they can target monitoring and support to those at greatest need.