mCODE™: Minimal Common Oncology Data Elements

The Initiative to Create a Core Cancer Model and Foundational EHR Data Elements

The Answer Is in the Data

Without common data standards, we could not quickly and easily exchange information across the internet or pull money from any ATM in the world. What if we could achieve the same level of interoperability for health care—starting with cancer?

Almost 40% of Americans will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lifetime. But only 3% of adult cancer patients participate in clinical trials, which provide most of the high-quality data used for cancer research. That’s not enough data to quickly lead to better treatments and results.

What if we could learn from the experiences of the other 97% of patients representing all demographics? Their data already exist in their electronic health records (EHR). But many of the 1,500 EHR systems in use today are incompatible with one another, dramatically limiting the valuable information cancer researchers could pull from these records.

With a common standard and language for oncology, we could explore the data from millions of patients and study the myriad combinations and comparisons of treatment parameters to provide substantial insights on the best treatment for each patient. We could collect data once and share it many times—across stakeholders, including patients, providers, payors, researchers, vendors, and government agencies.

That’s the goal of the Minimal Common Oncology Data Elements (mCODE™) initiative.

The American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®), its nonprofit subsidiary, CancerLinQ LLC, and MITRE—with the help of other collaborators—have developed and launched mCODE and the mCODE initiative. We have identified those minimal cancer data elements that are essential for analyzing treatments across patients (via their EHRs) and cancer practices to improve treatment and care coordination and are making mCODE specifications available to stakeholders across the oncology community.

We Are Making Progress

mCODE provides both a common data language and an open-source, nonproprietary data model for interconnectivity across systems. It is currently being utilized in real-world settings across the country. From these uses, we are gathering insights that will continue to improve mCODE standards, adoption, and applicability to various use cases.

Every interaction between a clinician and a cancer patient provides high-quality data that could lead to safer care, improved outcomes, and lower costs. But first we need data that is:

  • Standardized and collected in a computable manner so it can be aggregated with data from many other patients and analyzed for best practices
  • Exchanged through EHR systems that are interoperable
  • Collected in a streamlined way that doesn’t burden the clinicians
  • Secure and protects patient privacy

Join Us

mCODE can help achieve this. Join us in the effort to implement mCODE in novel ways that benefit the oncology community.

Every Patient's Journey Can Improve All Future Care

Interested in joining the mCODE Council? Submit your application online.

Downloadable Information on mCODE

The mCODE data specification is made available on an open source basis. We ask requesters to provide their contact information to better understand the potential user base, which will help us tailor use cases and features for future development. Also, we will notify you of updates and other relevant information on mCODE. (This is optional, and you can opt out of our email list at any time.)

Thank you for your interest in mCODE and cancer data interoperability.

Register and Access mCODE 

Available to access mCODE Version 1.0 Standard For Trial Use: Conceptual Model Diagram, Data Dictionary, and FHIR Implementation Guide. 

Implementing mCODE is a community-wide effort across all stakeholders and we welcome your feedback!

How mCODE Benefits You

Patients/Advocacy Groups


  • mCODE aims to improve care for patients, improve quality of life, and minimize costs
  • Patients, together with their clinicians, could use mCODE-related data to make evidence-based decisions about their care
  • mCODE will make it easier for patients to own and share their health records as they choose by enabling interoperability among EHR systems

EHR and IT Vendors/Developers


  • mCODE aims to help you harness the potential capabilities of EHRs
  • Interoperability among systems will enable doctors and patients to more easily share health records across providers and payers and be able to easily integrate records from others into their treatment plans
  • mCODE aims to improve the safety and quality of care for all cancer patients
  • mCODE should enable various applications to view and share information across one another

Clinicians and Health Systems


  • mCODE aims to empower shared decision-making between patients and providers
  • It will provide easier access to data and support quality metrics
  • It will provide more consistent information about treatments across demographics
  • mCODE aims to improve the safety and quality of care through data analysis across shared records
  • mCODE will improve interoperability among EHR systems, which will improve the ability to share their records across multiple providers and care locations
  • mCODE aspires to be a low-burden way to collect data and should allow the data in clinical notes to be captured and shared without expensive curation



  • Interoperability among systems will enable researchers to analyze data about treatments and lead to solutions and research opportunities
  • mCODE will drive consistency in the data available to use in R&D
  • Consistent data will in turn support research across all demographics, based on real-world evidence



  • mCODE aims to provide consistent information about treatments across demographics and to support quality metrics

Monica Bertagnolli, President, ASCO

Andre Quina, Co-Principal Investigator for mCODE, The MITRE Corporation

Contact Us

mCODE™ is a trademark of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

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