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Cancer Registry

What is a Cancer Registry?

A registry is a data management system designed to collect, manage and analyze data on persons diagnosed with cancer and certain benign (non-cancer) conditions. Health care institution registries maintain data on all patients diagnosed and/or treated for cancer at their facility.


Health care facilities report cancer cases to the central or state cancer registry as required by law.


Why maintain a Cancer Registry?

Local, state and national cancer agencies use registry data in defined areas to make important public health decisions that maximize the effectiveness of limited public health funds, such as the placement of screening programs.

Cancer registries are valuable research tools for those interested in the etiology, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Fundamental research on the epidemiology of cancer is initiated using the accumulated data.
Lifetime follow-up is an important aspect of the Cancer Registry. Current patient follow-up serves as a reminder to physicians and patients to schedule regular clinical examinations and provides accurate survival information.

What information is maintained in the Cancer Registry?

  • Demographic Information: Age, gender, race/ethnicity, birthplace and residence.
  • Medical History: Physical findings, screening information, occupation and any history of previous cancer.
  • Diagnostic Findings: Types, dates and results of procedures used to diagnose cancer.
  • Cancer Information: Primary site, cell type and extent of disease.
  • Cancer Therapy: Surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone or immunotherapy.
  • Follow-up: Annual information concerning treatment, recurrence and patient status is updated to maintain accurate surveillance information.

How are the data used?

  • Evaluate patient outcome, quality of life and satisfaction issues, and implement procedures for improvement.
  • Provide follow-up information for cancer surveillance.
  • Provide information for cancer program activities.
    Analyze referral patterns.
  • Allocate resources at the health care facility, the community, region or state level.
  • Develop educational programs for health care providers, patients and the general public.
  • Report cancer incidence as required by state law.
  • Evaluate efficacy of treatment modalities.

Is the information kept confidential?

Confidentiality of patient identifying information and related medical data is strictly maintained. Aggregate data are analyzed and published without patient identifiers.

What is a Cancer Registrar?

Cancer registrars are data management experts who report cancer statistics for various health care agencies. Registrars work closely with physicians, administrators, researchers and health care planners to provide support for cancer program development, ensure compliance of reporting standards, and serve as a valuable resource for cancer information with the ultimate goal of preventing and controlling cancer.


The cancer registrar is involved in managing and analyzing clinical cancer information for the purpose of education, research and outcome measurement.

The primary responsibility of the cancer registrar is to ensure that timely, accurate and complete data is incorporated and maintained on all types of cancer diagnosed and/or treated within an institution or other defined population. Information is entered into the database manually and through database linkage and computer interfaces.

Cancer registrars bridge the information gap by capturing a complete summary of each patient's disease from diagnosis through his/her lifetime. The information is not limited to the episodic information contained in the health care facility record. The summary or abstract is an ongoing account of the cancer patient's history, diagnosis, treatment and current status.