Victorian Consensus Data Sets (VCDS) Project


Cancer care is complex, with intense information management requirements. There are many large and small cancer data collections, created to inform cancer care, planning, and clinical decisions. Unfortunately, the number and type of data elements, their definitions and values mostly differ with each data collection, even for the same tumour stream. This makes it difficult to manage the data, and to obtain quality information on cancer.

Cancer data collections can therefore benefit from standardisation, which can make it simpler and more efficient to share data, and to obtain valuable and robust information from this data through analysis and research.

An important step is to develop agreed data definitions and standards for data items of interest for each Victorian tumour stream, based on the information needs of cancer care providers. Agreed data standards and definitions improve data quality, because data will be consistent and comparable. Data in a range of IT systems can easily be shared and thus provide a larger evidence-base for planning and clinical care. 

Project aim

The VCDS project aim is to establish state-wide consensus cancer data sets for ten tumour streams.

At the project outcome, each tumour stream is expected to have a selection of agreed data elements, their definitions and values.

The Victorian Consensus Data Sets are NOT mandatory or minimum data sets. Rather, they are based on stakeholder consensus of what data elements are considered useful and desirable to collect for each tumour stream.

VCDS tumour streams

Currently the following tumour streams are included:

  • Breast
  • Central nervous system
  • Colorectal
  • Genitourinary
  • Gynaecology
  • Haematological malignancies
  • Head and neck/Thyroid
  • Lung
  • Melanoma
  • Upper gastrointestinal

In addition, a Generic data set has been developed, which contains core data elements collected for most tumour streams.

Published data sets available for download

Generic, Breast, Lung and Colorectal Cancer VCDS have been published in 2010. These documents are available for download below.

Stakeholder input

Cancer clinicians are expected to be major contributors to the data set development, as clinical expertise is essential for selecting the data items to be documented in each tumour VCDS. Each tumour stream will have a VCDS working party with representatives from across Victoria.

The project coordinator will ensure that national and international standards are consulted and applied where possible, and existing cancer data sets will influence the development of the Victorian CDS where appropriate. It is expected that these data sets will require updates in future, as data needs and definitions change over time.

Funding bodies, steering committee and timeline

Cancer Council Victoria (CCV) and the Western & Central Melbourne Integrated Cancer Services (WCMICS) are jointly funding the project.

The VCDS Governance Committee has representatives from cancer clinicians, CCV, BioGrid Australia, Department of Health Cancer Strategy & Development, Victorian Cooperative Oncology Group (VCOG), and consumers. The committee provides advice and guidance to the project coordinator.

The completion of this project is currently set for December 2011.


Mid 2010

  • Generic, Breast, Colorectal and Lung Cancer VCDS published.
  • Data elements for most of the tumour streams drafted.

Late 2010

  • Melanoma, Thyroid and Upper GI Working Groups (WG) established.
  • Comparison (business analysis) of sources for Melanoma, Thyroid and Upper GI cancer data collections finalised.
  • Melanoma and Thyroid WG begin review of first drafts.

Future developments

Early 2011

  • Melanoma and Thyroid cancer WG to commence consensus process on the data elements to be included.
  • Melanoma and Thyroid cancer data elements consensus anticipated by the end of March 2011.
  • Upper GI working group meeting planned for March 2011.

Mid 2011

  • Drafts commence for Genitourinary, Gynaecological and Central Nervous System cancers.

Contact details

Christine Moje
Coordinator, Victorian Consensus Data Sets (VCDS) Project
(+61 3) 9635 5465