Cancer data is important to many people for a variety of different reasons. Researchers need accurate, up-to-date cancer data to study possible causes of cancer. Medical administrators use cancer data to make decisions regarding equipment purchases and developing programs for cancer prevention. Departments of Health use cancer data to investigate potential cancer clusters and their causes. Some of the data are available on the Internet without effort while other data can only be accessed with special permission. Where does the data come from and how is it collected?
In fact, all these valuable cancer statistics are collected and provided by the cancer registry.
By definition, a cancer registry is an information system designed for the collection, storage, management, and analysis of data on persons with cancer, usually covering a hospital or group of hospitals.
A cancer registry is a particular type of disease registry and its major purposes are:
- to establish and maintain a cancer incidence reporting system;
- to be an informational resource for the investigation of cancer and its causes; and
- to provide information to assist public health officials and agencies in the planning and evaluation of cancer prevention and cancer control programs.
Cancer registries are a primary source for unbiased population-based case control studies, the end points for cohort studies and clinical trials — and perhaps most importantly, the beginning point for survival analysis.
Cancer registration refers to the process of continual, systematic collection of data on the occurrence and characteristics of reportable malignancies with the purpose of helping to assess and control the impact of cancer on the community. Behind this system is a group of hardworking people called cancer registrars who are trained to collect accurate, complete, and timely data on cancer patients. More about cancer registrars will be discussed in Cancer Registrars.