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United States Cancer Statistics (USCS)

Technical Notes: Contributor: SEER Program

In 1971, Congress passed the National Cancer Act, which mandated the collection, analysis, and dissemination of data useful for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer. This mandate led to the establishment of the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) Program.1 For more than 30 years, the National Cancer Institute's (NCI) SEER Program has continued to—

  • Monitor the burden of cancer in the United States.
  • Provide statistics on cancer incidence, survival, and mortality in the United States.
  • Monitor cancer incidence trends in geographic and demographic population groups, including diverse racial and ethnic groups.
  • Provide detailed information on trends in the extent of disease at diagnosis, therapy, and patient survival.
  • Provide data for research.
  • Promote studies measuring progress in cancer control and etiology.
  • Provide specialty training in epidemiology, biostatistics, surveillance research, tumor registry methodology, operations, and management.
  • Respond to public concerns and inquiries on cancer.
  • Develop new statistical methods, models, and software for the analysis and presentation of national and small-area statistics.

The SEER Program currently collects and publishes data on cancer incidence and survival from 14 population-based cancer registries and 3 supplemental registries covering approximately 28% of the U.S. population. SEER coverage includes 25.6% of African Americans, 24.9% of whites, 38.4% of Hispanics, 43.8% of American Indians and Alaska Natives, 50.4% of Asians, and 66.5% of Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders. SEER registries provide complete coverage for metropolitan regions and special populations whose data are reported to their respective state registries funded by CDC's National Program of Cancer Registries. The population coverage is noted below—

  • The Detroit Registry covers 41% of Michigan's population.
  • The Seattle-Puget Sound Registry covers 69% of Washington's population.
  • The Greater Bay Area registries (San Francisco-Oakland Registry and San Jose-Monterey Registry) cover 19% of California's population.
  • The Los Angeles County Registry covers 28% of California's population.
  • The Alaska Native Tumor Registry covers 16% of Alaska's population.
  • The Arizona Indians Registry covers 5% of Arizona's population.

Since 2001, NCI funding for Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, and the remainder of California has provided resources for these registries to meet the requirements of the SEER Program regarding the metrics of completeness of case ascertainment, active patient follow-up, timeliness, and data quality. In 2012, Greater Georgia (the parts of Georgia not included in Atlanta and rural Georgia) was added to the SEER Program, with data retroactive to 2000. Information on more than 3 million in situ and invasive cancer cases is included in the SEER database, and approximately 170,000 new cases are added each year within SEER coverage areas.

The mortality data reported by SEER are provided by CDC's National Center for Health Statistics. A limited-use data set (formerly called the public use data file) is issued each year by the SEER Program for additional analyses by researchers and the public.

In addition to the datasets on the SEER Web site, NCI disseminates—

  • A public-use interactive Web site of pre-calculated cancer incidence rates.
  • Cancer statistics fact sheets.
  • A restricted acess dataset available to researchers through the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) Research Data Center.
  • A comprehensive overview of the most recent incidence, mortality, prevalence, lifetime risk, and survival statistics. The Cancer Statistics Review reports and summarizes the key measures of cancer's impact on the U.S. population.


1Hankey BF, Ries LA, Edwards BK. The Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program: a national resource. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention 1999;8(12):1117–1121.

Page last reviewed: August 20, 2014
Page last updated: August 20, 2014
Content source: Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
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