American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

NCDB PUF Application Period Opens August 16

The National Cancer Database (NCDB) is pleased to announce that the Participant User File (PUF) application will open August 16, 2017. The NCDB will accept applications for site-specific files, which include cases diagnosed between 2004 and 2015. The application period will be open through September 18, 2017.

Please note: The PUF application has been updated. If you have applied for a PUF in the past, please clear the cache on your browser and refresh the application manager page so that the updates may be applied to your new applications. Contact your facility's IT department if you need assistance in clearing your cache.

The NCDB PUF is a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliant data file containing cases submitted to the Commission on Cancer's (CoC) NCDB and complies with the terms of the Business Associate Agreement between the American College of Surgeons and cancer programs accredited by the CoC; i.e., no patients or facilities can be identified. The PUF is designed to provide investigators at CoC-accredited cancer programs with a data resource they can use to review and advance the quality of care delivered to cancer patients through analyses of cases reported to the NCDB.

Prior to planning to submit a PUF, you are advised to read the information provided on the PUF website. A critical information tool for all applicants is the Getting Started Document, which details the variables and their limitations that could impact your proposed study. It is also important to review the PUF data dictionary to ensure that you are able to conduct your proposed study with the variables available.

Applicants are expected to:

  • Be added as a PUF applicant with a CoC Datalinks User Name and ID (see your hospital registrar for assistance)
  • Complete a PUF application, including disease site requested, data analyst, co-investigators, study question, analysis plan and other relevant information
  • Receive a letter of support from your cancer program's Cancer Committee Chair. This letter is to be on letterhead and uploaded at the time of submission of your application in order to be reviewed
  • Review the American College of Surgeons' CoC NCDB Participant Use File (PUF) Purpose and Terms of Agreement and Data Use Agreement at to determine if any conflicts may arise at your facility or in your intended use of the PUF
  • Assess your facility's Institutional Review Board (IRB) policy

Successful August 2017 PUF applicants will receive files in Fall 2017. Prior to the download of the file, a Data Use Agreement (DUA) must be signed electronically before the data can be received.

Following receipt of a PUF file, if an applicant is found to be out of compliance with the PUF Program Policies, he or she may be barred from receiving future PUF files. If multiple issues are found within the same institution, the institution may be suspended from the PUF application process.

For additional information, please visit the PUF website.

Questions regarding the NCDB PUFs or the Request for Applications (RFA) process for a PUF may be directed to NCDB technical staff at