Providing Quality Cancer Data
Public health professionals need information about cancer cases diagnosed (called incidence) and deaths from cancer (called mortality) to understand and address the nation's cancer burden. Cancer registries, supported by CDC's National Program of Cancer Registries (NPCR) or the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) Program, collect incidence data. Mortality data are collected by CDC's National Vital Statistics System.
NPCR supports cancer registries in 45 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Pacific Island Jurisdictions. These data represent 96% of the U.S. population. Together, NPCR and the SEER Program collect data for the entire U.S. population.
How Cancer Data Are Collected
Medical facilities such as hospitals, doctor's offices, and pathology laboratories send information about cancer cases to their cancer registry. Most information comes from hospitals where highly trained employees called cancer registrars transfer the information from the patient's medical record to the registry's computer software using standardized codes. The data are then sent to the central cancer registry.
Every year, the cancer registries submit incidence data to NPCR or SEER, which jointly release the United States Cancer Statistics: Incidence and Mortality (USCS) report. This report contains no identifying information about individual patients.
How Cancer Data Are Used
The data are used to—
- Monitor cancer trends over time.
- Show cancer patterns in various populations.
- Guide planning and evaluation of cancer control programs.
- Help set priorities for allocating health resources.
- Advance clinical, epidemiologic, and health services research.
Vital information about cancer cases and cancer deaths is necessary for health agencies to report on cancer trends, find out whether cancer prevention and control efforts are working, participate in research, and respond to reports of suspected increases in cancer occurrence.
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