This database will save you tons of time and effort towards publishing your first cancer research paper

My name is Amr Ebied. I am a 44 year-old Egyptian hematologist who has never published a single medical research paper until I was 41 and thanks to the database that I am highlighting today, I was able to publish almost 10 research papers, not to mention the irons that are still in the fire. About 3 years ago, when I accidentally ran into this database’s website, had no idea how to gain access to such data, nor how to use this data’s potential to conduct research on virtually every type of cancer that is reportable in the United States. I even created my own YouTube channel in which I try to simplify to physicians, healthcare workers and researchers all over the world how to benefit with this database’s potential up to the maximum level.

The database is SEER, short for Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results database. It contains cancer-related data reported from about 28% of the United States population. Data that was reported to the SEER database dates back to 1973, and it has been updated at frequent intervals, until the most recent update was added in November 2018. Although the SEER database has a well known website (https://seer.cancer.gov/data/), don’t expect to find cancer data lying there expecting you to download them and then start your analysis. In order to gain access to the SEER data, and start working with your data and writing your research paper, you have to follow the next step-by-step instructions.

First, you have to go to the SEER database website (https://seer.cancer.gov/data). A lot of changes have occurred to this website. The screenshot below represents the webpage on the 10th of May, 2020.

Just hover your mouse over the “SEER Data & Software” tab. This tab will expand into a larger drop down menu. You will need to move your mouse to the far left, under “SEER Incidence Database”, and click on “Request the Data”.

Once you have clicked on “Request the Data”, you will be taken into another webpage (https://seer.cancer.gov/seertrack/data/request/), this is the webpage where you provide your personal information in order to request access to the current and latest submission of the SEER data. As I have outlined before, seer data is being updated with new submissions from cancer registrars every year. Requesting to access the latest submission of the data will equally allow you access to all submitted versions of the SEER data since its first submission. Needless to say, future submissions of the SEER data will require submitting newer requests, as per the instructions of the SEER database. All you have to do now is fill in the blanks with your information and when you are finished, click the “submit” button at the bottom of the webpage.

After submitting my request, another webpage will pop up, thanking you for your requesting the data, and informing you that an email from the SEER database has been probably sent to you containing a confirmation link, which you need to click to move you to the next most important step of gaining access to the data, which is signing and sending the data user agreement.

After a few minutes, you can log into your email account to find an email confirming receipt of your SEER Research Data Request, and inviting you to click on the confirmation link and sign, print, and send the data use agreement present on the confirmation webpage.

After clicking on the confirmation link, you will be taken to the webpage below where the most important thing that you are required to do is click on the “agreement form” link to take you to the data use agreement webpage.

By clicking on the “agreement form”, you will be sent to another webpage (shown below) where you will see the actual text of the data use agreement. In the upper left corner of the agreement, you will find your SEER identification number, and in the lower left corner, you will find two slots for you to sign with your name and date. For me, I have different ways to handle this and they all worked. For example, I am used to printing out the data use agreement, signing it manually with a pen, scanning it, and then sending the scanned version to the email provided to you at the bottom left corner of the data use agreement. One other option that I have tried is to open the data use agreement using Adobe Acrobat, sign it using the sign function of the software, and then send it back to the SEER program. Either way will work well for you at that step.

After a day or two, and if everything goes well, the SEER program will send you another email notifying you that your request for the SEER data has been approved. In the same email, they will provide you with your username and password. Of course, you already know your username from the not yet signed data use agreement, but after your data use agreement has been approved, the SEER program will send you your password. But what are the username and password for? They are for logging in into the software that you will use to extract the data, namely the SEER*Stat software.

You can use the following video from my YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9sfnLmixOw) to follow more step-by-step instructions into downloading the latest SEER*Stat software as well as using your username and password to log into the software and start extracting your data for your desired cancer research. On my YouTube channel, you can find different videos that will provide an introduction into what the SEER database is about and what cancer data and statistics can be extracted out of it. Please give feedback on whether I should provide more written tutorials on the SEER database like the one you’ve just read, or doing more videos will be more efficient.

Thank you.

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