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National Program of Cancer Registries (NPCR)

Recognizing the need for more complete local, state, regional, and national data on cancer incidence, in 1992 Congress established the National Program of Cancer Registries (NPCR) by enacting the Cancer Registries Amendment Act, later incorporated into the Public Health Service (PHS) Act [42 U.S.C. 242k]. Congress mandated CDC to provide funds to state and territorial health departments (or their authorized agencies) at a ratio of 3:1 to match state support for the central cancer registry. Today, CDC funds 48 cancer registries: 45 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Pacific Island Jurisdictions. NPCR registries cover 96% of the U.S. population.

NPCR continues to—

  • Monitor the state and national burden of cancer.
  • Identify variation in cancer incidence for racial and ethnic populations and for regions within a state, between states, and between regions.
  • Provide data for research.
  • Provide guidance for the allocation of health resources.
  • Respond to public concerns and inquiries about cancer.
  • Improve planning for future health care needs.
  • Evaluate activities in cancer prevention and control.

In January 2001, NPCR registries began reporting their incidence data annually to CDC. The registries report data to CDC beginning with cases diagnosed in the first year for which they collected data with the assistance of NPCR funds. Data from the special population cancer registries or the SEER metropolitan area cancer registries operating in Alaska, Arizona, California, Michigan, and Washington are reported to their respective NPCR state cancer registries for inclusion in those states’ incidence data and are transmitted to CDC as part of the state’s annual data submission.

In November 2014, CDC received information on more than 24 million invasive cancer cases diagnosed during 1995 through 2012. More than 1 million new invasive cancer cases are added each year.

In conjunction with the annual release of the United States Cancer Statistics (USCS) report, CDC’s NPCR recognizes each funded central cancer registry for its achievement of the NPCR Standards for Data Completeness, Timeliness, and Quality.

All standards are indicative of complete, timely, and quality data available for cancer control activities addressing the burden on U.S. citizens. Meeting these standards allows inclusion of the program’s data in the annual USCS report.

The USCS report exemplifies the progress achieved in creating a national system of cancer surveillance. NPCR commends all who are involved in the collection, analysis, and reporting of cancer incidence and mortality data. Regional and state-level data can be used to plan and evaluate cancer control programs, conduct research, and monitor cancer trends. Partners such as the central cancer registry are crucial to the success of cancer surveillance in the United States. The USCS publication and many advances in cancer surveillance in the United States would have been impossible without the tireless efforts and many achievements of these organizations.

In addition to the data on this Web site, NPCR disseminates—

  • A public-use data set of pre-calculated cancer incidence rates on CDC WONDER.
  • Fact sheets on the states’ cancer burden intended for lay audiences.
  • A data set for selected U.S. counties showing incidence rates and counts for major cancer sites. An example is available on State Cancer Profiles.
  • A restricted-access dataset available to researchers through the National Center for Health Statistics Research Data Center.
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