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PDQ® - NCI's Comprehensive Cancer Database

  • Updated: 07/24/2013

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Table of Contents

PDQ Cancer Information Summaries
PDQ Editorial Boards
NCI Dictionaries
NCI's List of Cancer Clinical Trials
PDQ Cancer Genetics Services Directory
Other Ways to Get PDQ Information

PDQ (Physician Data Query) is NCI's comprehensive cancer database. It contains summaries on a wide range of cancer topics; a registry of 8,000+ open and 19,000+ closed cancer clinical trials from around the world; and a directory of professionals who provide genetics services. PDQ also contains the NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms, with definitions for 6,800+ cancer and medical terms, and the NCI Drug Dictionary, which has information on 2,300+ agents used in the treatment of cancer or cancer-related conditions.

 PDQ Cancer Information Summaries

The PDQ cancer information summaries are peer-reviewed, evidence-based summaries on topics including adult and pediatric cancer treatment, supportive and palliative care, screening, prevention, genetics, and complementary and alternative medicine. Most of the summaries are available in two different formats:

  • Health Professional versions provide detailed information written in technical language and are fully referenced with links to PubMed abstracts.
  • Patient versions are written in lay language and include links to the NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms. Many patient summaries also include illustrations.

Both versions of the summaries are available to health professionals, patients, and the general public as a service of the NCI. Some of the summaries are also available in Spanish.

Adult treatment summaries
The adult treatment summaries provide prognostic and treatment information on the major types of cancer in adults. Summaries are available for over 70 types of cancer, including a number of brief summaries on less common cancers. Health professional versions of the summaries provide detailed information on prognosis, staging, and treatment for each disease; refer to key citations in the literature; and link to abstracts for the citations. All of the PDQ adult treatment summaries are available in patient versions and in Spanish.

Pediatric treatment summaries
The pediatric treatment summaries contain prognostic and treatment information on the major types of cancer in children, as well as information on unusual childhood cancers. Health professional versions of the summaries provide detailed information on prognosis, staging, and treatment for each disease; refer to key citations in the literature; and link to abstracts for the citations. All of the PDQ pediatric treatment summaries are available in patient versions and in Spanish.

Supportive and palliative care summaries
PDQ's supportive and palliative care summaries provide descriptions of the pathophysiology and treatment of common physical and psychosocial complications of cancer and its treatment, such as pain, hypercalcemia, and nausea/vomiting. Each health professional version generally contains an overview, information on etiology, assessment and management, and references to the current literature. All of the PDQ supportive and palliative care summaries are available in patient versions and in Spanish.

Screening/detection summaries
Summaries on screening/detection for many of the common cancers such as lung, colorectal, breast, and prostate, as well as other cancers, are available. The health professional-oriented summaries contain current data concerning screening/detection for particular disease sites, the levels of evidence for those statements, and the significance and evidence of benefit for the statements, which include supporting references to current literature. All of the PDQ screening/detection summaries are available in patient versions.

Prevention summaries
Summaries on prevention for many of the common cancers such as lung, colorectal, breast, and prostate, as well as other cancers, are available. Health professional versions of the summaries contain current data concerning prevention for particular disease sites, the levels of evidence for those statements, and the significance and evidence of benefit for the statements. Supporting references to current literature are included. All of the PDQ prevention summaries are available in patient versions.

Genetics summaries
PDQ genetics summaries provide evidence-based information about the genetic basis of certain cancers. Information is given about risk factors related to family history, major genes and syndromes associated with the disease, interventions specific to individuals at high risk, and the ethical, legal, and social issues related to cancer risk counseling and gene testing. An overview of cancer genetics and summaries on the genetics of breast and ovarian cancer, colorectal cancer, medullary thyroid cancer, prostate cancer, and skin cancer are currently available. A summary covering the elements of cancer risk assessment and counseling is also available.

Complementary and alternative medicine summaries
The health professional versions of the summaries contain background information about the treatments; a brief history of their development; information about their proposed mechanism(s) of action; and information about relevant laboratory, animal, and clinical studies. Most of the summaries also are available in a patient version that is written in a question-and-answer format. All complementary and alternative medicine summaries include glossary links to definitions of scientific terms.

 PDQ Editorial Boards

The PDQ cancer information summaries are produced, maintained, and updated regularly by six editorial boards comprised of oncology specialists in fields including medical, surgical, and radiation oncology; epidemiology; psychology; genetics; and complementary and alternative medicine. Each Board reviews published research findings on a monthly basis and meets several times a year to review and discuss updates to their summaries. The Boards are not formal advisory or policy-making boards for the NCI.

Each Board is supported by a corresponding Editorial Advisory Board comprised of cancer experts who review the content of the summaries every one to two years and make recommendations to the core Editorial Board.

PDQ® Adult Treatment Editorial Board
Experts in the fields of medical oncology, radiation oncology, and surgical oncology.

PDQ® Pediatric Treatment Editorial Board
Experts in the fields of pediatric oncology, pediatric surgery, pediatric neuro-oncology, and radiation oncology.

PDQ® Supportive and Palliative Care Editorial Board
Experts in the fields of pain and palliative care, psychology, medical oncology, and pediatric oncology.

PDQ® Screening and Prevention Editorial Board
Experts in the fields of oncology, cancer prevention, hematology, radiology, urology, statistics, epidemiology, and economics.

PDQ® Cancer Genetics Editorial Board
Experts in the fields of genetics, clinical oncology, epidemiology, psychology, and the social sciences.

PDQ® Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine Editorial Board
Experts in the fields of oncology, pharmacology, natural products, drug discovery and development, traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, and homeopathy.

 NCI Dictionaries

Dictionary of Cancer Terms
A dictionary with 6,800+ cancer-related terms. This resource is updated monthly; new terms are reviewed by a multidisciplinary panel of reviewers, and approximately 30 terms are added each month.

NCI Drug Dictionary
A dictionary that contains technical definitions, alternate names, and links to related information for 2,300+ agents that are being used in the treatment of patients with cancer or cancer-related conditions.

 NCI's List of Cancer Clinical Trials 

NCI’s database includes a comprehensive list of cancer clinical trials.. The list contains 8,000+ abstracts of clinical trial protocols that are accepting patients, including trials for cancer treatment, genetics, diagnosis, supportive and palliative care, screening, and prevention. Observational and epidemiologic studies are also included. In addition, the registry contains 19,000+ abstracts of clinical trial protocols that have been completed or are closed to patient accrual, dating back to the 1970s.

The list includes most clinical trials sponsored by NCI. It also contains many clinical trials sponsored by pharmaceutical companies, medical centers, and other groups from around the world.

As a result of changes in US Federal law and NIH policies, NCI discontinued trial registration activities in 2010. However, NCI continues to provide access to cancer clinical trials information on the NCI Web site and to licensees of PDQ. Cancer clinical trials registered in ClinicalTrials.gov are downloaded and enhanced to facilitate search and retrieval by cancer patients, health professionals, and researchers.

Searching for clinical trials

NCI's list of cancer clinical trials can be searched using a search form that allows users to select a type of cancer, stage/subtype, type of trial, location of trial, type of treatment/intervention, drug name, phase of trial, or a combination of these and other criteria. Help links provided on the search form and search results pages lead to tips about how to construct a search, display results, and print trials of interest.

Additional information about clinical trials

For more information and news about clinical trials, please visit the Clinical Trials area of NCI's Web site.

 PDQ Cancer Genetics Services Directory

PDQ's Cancer Genetics Services Directory is a directory of about 500 individuals who provide services related to cancer genetics (cancer risk assessment, genetic counseling, genetic susceptibility testing, and others).

 Other Ways to Get PDQ Information

For information about obtaining PDQ cancer information in XML format to use in Web sites and in other information products, see Cancer.gov Content Dissemination Program.

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