PARACHUTE: A national palliative radiotherapy dataset review


Session type:

Jenna Bhimani, Kerlann Le Calvez, Matthew Williams, Katie Spencer, Simon Whalley, Eva Morris



Cancer remains a leading cause of death in the UK with five year survival across all cancer types at less than 60%. Because of this, palliative radiotherapy represents an important part of the radiotherapy department workload and an important area of research. Previous work has suggested that there are significant differences in outcome between different patient groups, and that practice varies across the UK.



We used data from Public Health England to create the PARACHUTE dataset. This included all radiotherapy episodes delivered to adult patients in England between 1st Jan 2014 – 31st Dec 2016. Python and R were used to analyse the data with a focus on the 13 most commonly diagnosed cancers across England.


We identified 322,019 patients undergoing 367,916 episodes of radiotherapy. 35.4% of all radiotherapy episodes were administered with palliative intent.  Median survival for all patients undergoing their first episode of palliative radiotherapy was 177 days. Median survival was lowest for patients with lung cancer at 107 days and highest for breast cancer at 361 days. Median age for patients undergoing palliative radiotherapy was 71 years.


A significant proportion of all radiotherapy is given with palliative intent. The PARACHUTE data set considers a wide range of factors that can be used to identify patients most likely to benefit from palliative radiotherapy. The next stage of the work will focus on developing and understanding of drivers of outcome at both patient and hospital level.

Impact statement

We have extracted and developed a national dataset to explore palliative radiotherapy