Exploratory requests

PALGA has operated its Public Pathology Database (PODB) since 2015. You can easily search it yourself. You might want to find out, for example, whether the ratio between the number of benign and malignant prostate biopsies in your laboratory matches the national figures. Or you might want to find out if that specific diagnosis really is as rare as you think.

You can use the exploratory request to retrieve national figures (which you can not find in the Public Pathology Database). We do not process the data retrieved by these requests. The figures retrieved are crude data that has not undergone any further processing. PALGA is not responsible for the accuracy of this data, and advises against using these figures in publications. It is, of course, possible to follow this up with a national request.

National requests

National requests can be used to retrieve excerpts from PALGA’s national database. One of PALGA’s consultants will supervise the request procedure. All requests are reviewed by the Scientific Council and the Privacy Committee. The diagnosis coding lines drawn up by the pathologist to make it possible to select excerpts by localization/topography (e.g. oesophagus), by operation (e.g. biopsy/resection), by abnormality (e.g. adenocarcinoma) or by a combination of them (e.g. biopsies of adenocarcinoma of the oesophagus). Search terms that are frequently used together are combined into retrieval terms. In addition, it is possible to add restrictions on year of test, patient age, or type of pathology test (such as histology). The consultant will agree the exact search criteria with you. You will receive a file containing excerpts.

In principle, PALGA’s database is a pathology-diagnosis database, but each excerpt includes pseudonymized patient identification, which makes it possible to compose a given patient’s pathology history. It is also possible to retrieve data on patients who have moved house, or who have consulted a specialist in another region.

Cohort requests

Cohort requests are national requests that include a link. Here, data from study cohorts is linked to PALGA's database, subject to strict privacy-related conditions. Pseudonymized patient identification is used to create such links. This linkage makes it possible to check whether the participants in the study cohort in PALGA’s database are known to have a specific diagnosis. Linking from a study cohort can take place occasionally, or at regular intervals. One example of a frequently repeated link involves the Dutch Cohort Study on Diet and Cancer (n = 120,852) which is linked to PALGA’s database once a year. Details are available concerning the nutritional and lifestyle habits of those participating in this cohort study. The annual link with PALGA’s database makes it possible to establish a relation between dietary and lifestyle habits and the onset of diseases such as cancer.

It is also possible to establish links with other registries, such as the cancer registry, PHARmacoMOrbidity (PHARMO Institute), DICA and the Netherlands Foundation for the Detection of Hereditary Tumours (STOET). Read more here.

Additional requests

If, having completed the nationwide request, you would like additional information you can retrieve the entire pathology reports, the PA material or the clinical data. Requesting such additional information involves what is referred to as the ‘intermediary procedure’, as PALGA acts as an intermediary here. You specify which excerpts you require further information on. PALGA then puts you in touch with the relevant laboratories. 

This intermediary procedure enables PALGA to act as a gateway to the further use of biobanks in the laboratories. For instance, researchers can retrieve tissue slides via PALGA to confirm/revise the diagnosis or they can retrieve tissue blocks to carry out additional tests. In addition, it is possible – via the pathologist – to get in touch with the treating physician. The physician can then provide the researcher with clinical data to supplement data from the excerpts in PALGA’s database. This could include the patient’s symptoms in the period prior to diagnosis, any co-morbidities before or after surgery, medication use, family history, etc. 

You can find more details about the use of tissue for scientific research in the following article: 'Het Pathologisch-Anatomisch Landelijk Geautomatiseerd Archief; Een databank plus nader-gebruik-biobank van grote waarde' (Tijdschrift voor gezondheidswetenschappen 90, 2012; 276-279).

Go to the request procedure