Frequently asked questions for the public

Answers for the public on commonly asked questions about NABCOP.

1. What is the NABCOP?

The National Audit of Breast Cancer in Older Patients (NABCOP) is a clinical audit to evaluate the quality of care provided to women aged 70 years and older by breast cancer services in England and Wales. The NABCOP started in April 2016.

2. What is clinical audit?

Clinical audit is a tool used by health care professionals to monitor and improve patient care by comparing how patients are treated and their outcomes against explicit standards or guidelines.

In a clinical audit, information on the care received by patients is collected and analysed to see if individual clinicians and hospitals are following national clinical standards, such as those published by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). These audits usually also produce information for hospitals to compare their outcomes of care with other hospitals.

4. Why are we carrying out this clinical audit?

We want to support the improvement of hospital care for older patients with breast cancer. Research shows that there are differences in the care given to younger and older patients with breast cancer. The NABCOP aims to find out what these differences are and to understand why these differences are happening.

We share our findings with hospitals in England and Wales. In particular, we tell hospitals about the areas of breast cancer care that they are doing well in and where they could improve.

5. Who takes part in the NABCOP?

All NHS hospitals in England and Wales that provide breast cancer care participate in the NABCOP.

6. How are patient data being collected?

The NABCOP does not ‘collect’ patient data directly. Instead, we use information about patients that have already been collected by national organisations in England and Wales. These include the National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service (NCRAS) in England and the Cancer Network Information System Cymru (CANISC) in Wales. To find out more about information collected by cancer registration services, please visit the NCRAS website.

Findings from the NABCOP are published on this website.

7. How can a patient opt-out of their data being used in national audits?

The national data opt-out allows patients to opt-out of their information being used for purposes other than their immediate clinical care (such as for audit and research purposes).

All NHS organisations are required to be compliant with the national data opt-out policy by 31st March 2022.

For national clinical audits such as the NABCOP, using existing sources of patient data collected by the National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service (NCRAS) in England, individual’s opt-out preferences are applied by NCRAS prior to the NABCOP receiving the datasets.

For more information on the national data opt-out, please visit the NHS website:

8. What time period does the NABCOP use data on?

We use data collected on patients who are diagnosed with breast cancer from 1st January 2014 onwards and receive care in NHS hospitals in England and Wales.

9. Who will benefit from this audit?

The aim of the audit is to improve the care received by patients with breast cancer. We do this by making recommendations to breast cancer services based on our findings. For example, the NABCOP makes recommendations on:

  • How women were diagnosed and their fitness was assessed
  • The type of surgery that older women have for breast cancer
  • The use of radiotherapy after surgery
  • The use of chemotherapy


10. How are patients involved in the NABCOP?

We work closely with patient representatives and patient charities on many aspects throughout the project, from deciding what information to collect to how the results are reported.

11. Where can I find out more information about breast cancer?

The following websites provide general breast cancer information and support:

12. I have a question that is not answered in the FAQs

For patient information about the NABCOP, please read our patient information leaflet.
For all queries related to the NABCOP, please contact us.