Design of Retrospective and Case-Control Studies in Oncology

  • Katherine S. Panageas
  • Debra A. Goldman
  • T. Peter KinghamEmail author


Retrospective studies allow researchers to evaluate outcomes in a real-world setting at reduced costs compared with prospective trials, and have long-established use in surgical oncology. In retrospective studies, the study sample is generated from secondary or pre-existing data, which precludes randomization. As a result, the potential for unique and significant biases exists and these can limit the applicability and generalizability of the findings. This chapter is intended to serve as a guide for conducting retrospective research studies. Topics covered include internal and external validity; types of biases; sampling and matching techniques, including propensity score matching; missing data; and special considerations for common study designs. Examples from the surgical oncology literature are provided.


Retrospective cancer research Case-control studies 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katherine S. Panageas
    • 1
  • Debra A. Goldman
    • 1
  • T. Peter Kingham
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Epidemiology and BiostatisticsMemorial Sloan Kettering Cancer CenterNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of SurgeryMemorial Sloan Kettering Cancer CenterNew YorkUSA

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