Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program

In 1971, Congress passed the National Cancer Act,external icon 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.external icon1

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 population-based cancer registries in 19 U.S. geographic areas. In the 2019 data release, SEER coverage included 30.0% of blacks, 31.9% of whites, 44.0% of Hispanics, 49.3% of American Indians and Alaska Natives, 57.5% of Asians, and 68.5% of Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders. SEER registriesexternal icon 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.

Since 2001, NCI funding for Kentucky, Louisiana, 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. Idaho, Massachusetts, and New York were funded by the SEER Program in 2018 and provide data retroactive to 2000. Information on more than 10 million in situ and invasive cancer cases is included in the SEER database, and more than 600,000 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 icon by researchers and the public.

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

  • A public use interactive websiteexternal icon of pre-calculated cancer incidence rates.
  • Cancer statistics fact sheets.
  • 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 icon reports and summarizes the key measures of cancer’s impact on the U.S. population.

Reference

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