Cancer Registries in Action
Central cancer registries across the country share innovative ways they use cancer data to help fight cancer. CDC’s National Program of Cancer Registries helps states do this work through funding and technical support.
The early days of the COVID-19 pandemic made it hard for patients with cancer to get the care they needed. Doctor’s offices and treatment centers were closed. Appointments for routine tests, including cancer screening tests, were postponed. As a result, many people did not get cancer screening tests in 2020.
Two state cancer registries were quick to recognize the need to collect high-quality information to understand how COVID-19 was affecting people with cancer. In Arkansas and North Carolina, registries matched data for people with cancer to data for people who tested positive for COVID-19. Their findings will help guide plans to address the needs of people with cancer during and after the pandemic.
South Carolina has a high rate of cancer deaths, especially from breast and cervical cancer. Rates are also higher among black women. To help reduce these rates, state officials used cancer registry data to develop the Can Screen Initiative to reach more people at risk and make sure they get the treatment they need.
Weighing too much is the second largest cause of cancer after cigarette smoking. It is estimated that overweight and obesity are linked to 40% of all cancers diagnosed in the United States each year. The Texas Cancer Registry published a report showing that the rate of 13 cancer types linked to overweight and obesity went up in Texas between 2005 and 2014. Texas used cancer data to raise awareness and show that being overweight is a relevant cancer risk factor to Texans.
Kentucky Cancer Registry data showed that the rate of common childhood cancers is higher in Kentucky than in the United States as a whole, and even higher among children in Kentucky’s Appalachian region. In response to seeing these disparities, the state legislature established the Kentucky Pediatric Cancer Research Trust Fund in 2015 to help further investigate why children in Kentucky have high cancer rates.
Jefferson County, in the southwest part of Mississippi, is the second poorest county in the nation. African-American women in this county have higher rates of getting and dying from breast cancer. The Breast Cancer Disparity Roundtable used cancer registry data to help regions with high rates of breast cancer. Members of the Roundtable organized a screening event on the campus of Alcorn State University, a historically black university, in Jefferson County before the homecoming game. They provided education on breast cancer screening and mammogram services available at the local health center.
The Massachusetts Cancer Registry looked at cervical cancer data from 2004 through 2015 and found that nearly one-fourth of cases were diagnosed among women who were 65 years old or older. Current guidelines recommend that women in this age group not be screened for cervical cancer if they have had regular, recommended screenings in the past. Central cancer registries partnered with state cancer control programs, academic institutions, and medical centers to ensure older women have received screening for cervical cancer to help address this treatable cancer.
In the past 10 years, cancer programs in Delaware have informed men, especially African-American men, about the risk of getting prostate cancer. The Delaware Cancer Registry provides detailed information about new cases of, and deaths from, prostate cancer. Although the rate of getting prostate cancer is high in Delaware, the five-year average death rate has dropped by nearly one-third in the past 10 years. Much of this decrease is because fewer African-American men are dying from the disease.
The Colorado Central Cancer Registry developed a computer program to find out which patients meet guidelines for referral to genetic counseling. The goal is to help hospitals make sure that patients who need genetic services are referred to a genetic counselor. Family members of people with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome or Lynch syndrome may be at higher risk for cancer. They should talk to their doctor about genetic counseling to see if genetic testing could help them lower their risk of getting cancer. The registry sends three hospitals the names of their patients who may benefit from genetic services to encourage hospitals to offer genetic counseling.