Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program

In 1971, Congress passed the National Cancer Act,External 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 National Cancer Institute’s (NCI’s) Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program.External1

The SEER Program continues 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 collects and publishes data on cancer incidence and survival from 15 population-based cancer registries and 3 supplemental registries. SEER coverage includes 25.6% of African Americans, 24.9% of whites, 38.4% of Hispanics, 30.6% of American Indians and Alaska Natives, 50.4% of Asians, and 66.5% of Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders. SEER registriesExternal 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. The SEER Program issues a limited-use data set (formerly called the public use data file) for additional analysesExternal by researchers and the public.

In addition to the data sets on the SEER website, NCI disseminates—

  • A public-use interactive websiteExternal of pre-calculated cancer incidence rates.
  • Cancer statistics fact sheets.External
  • A restricted access data set for researchers through the National Center for Health Statistics’ Research Data Center.
  • A comprehensive overview of the most recent incidence, mortality, prevalence, lifetime risk, and survival statistics. The Cancer Statistics ReviewExternal reports and summarizes the key measures of cancer’s impact on the U.S. population.


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