U.S. Cancer Statistics Publication Criteria

U.S Cancer Statistics incidence data are from central cancer registries that have high-quality cancer incidence data. The following are U.S. Cancer Statistics publication criteria—

  • No more than 5% of cases are ascertained solely on the basis of a death certificate.
    • A measure of the completeness of case ascertainment is the proportion of cases ascertained solely on the basis of a death certificate, with no other information on the case available after the registry has completed a routine procedure known as “death clearance and followback.”1 2 3
  • No more than 3% of cases are missing information on sex.
  • No more than 3% of cases are missing information on age.
  • No more than 5% of cases are missing information on race.
  • At least 97% of the registry’s records passed a set of single-field and interfield computerized edits.
    • Computerized edits are computer programs that test the validity and logic of data components. For example, if (a) a patient received a diagnosis of cancer in 1999, (b) the patient’s age was reported as 80 years, and (c) the patient’s year of birth was reported as 1942, a computerized edit could, without human intervention, identify these components as incompatible. The computerized edits applied to the data in this report were designed by the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program for use by SEER registries. During the 1990s, these edits were expanded and incorporated into North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR)external icon standards and into the NPCR-EDITS software designed and maintained by CDC.

After years of analyzing completeness of case ascertainment, CDC has determined that NPCR registries consistently deliver high-quality, complete data.47 Completeness of case ascertainment calculations have been discontinued as a measure of eligibility for publication. The data quality criteria—missing/unknown data, death-certificate-only percentage, duplicate rate, and percentage of records passing edits—continue to be used in determining meeting or not meeting publication criteria. Even though the completeness estimate is no longer a criterion for USCS, it continues to be used to monitor and evaluate progress in meeting NPCR Program Standards. When extensive review and consideration determine the level of case ascertainment has the potential to produce unstable analytic results, data for affected diagnosis year(s) may not be included in USCS and other analytic datasets.

Because some cancer patients receive diagnostic or treatment services at more than one reporting facility, cancer registries perform a procedure known as “unduplication” to ensure that each cancer case is counted only once.1

See central cancer registries that met USCS publication criteria.


  1. Havener L. Standards for Cancer Registries, Vol III: Standards for Completeness, Quality, Analysis, and Management of Data. Springfield (IL): North American Association of Central Cancer Registries; 2004.
  2. Menck HR, Phillips JL. Central cancer registries. In: Hutchinson CL, Menck HR, Burch M, Gottschalk R, editors. Cancer Registry Management: Principles and Practice. Second edition. Dubuque (IA): Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company; 2004.
  3. Seiffert JE, Hoyler SS, McKeen K, Potts M. Casefinding, abstracting, and death clearance. In: Menck HR, Smart C, editors. Central Cancer Registries: Design, Management, and Use. Chur, Switzerland: Harwood Academic Publishers; 1994.
  4. Tucker TC, Howe HL, Weir HK. Certification of population-based cancer registries. Journal of Registry Management 1999;26(1):24–27.
  5. Tucker TC, Howe HL. Measuring the quality of population-based cancer registries: the NAACCR perspective. Journal of Registry Management 2001;28(1):41–44.
  6. Johnson CJ, Weir HK, Mariotto AB, Nishri D, Wilson R, Copeland G, Lake A, Firth R, Wohler B, Wu XC, Schymura M, Hofferkamp J, Sherman R, Kohler B (eds). Cancer in North America: 2009–2013 Volume Four: Cancer Survival in the United States and Canada 2006–2012. Springfield, IL: North American Association of Central Cancer Registries, Inc.; 2016.
  7. Howe HL. Conclusions of the Workgroup for High-Quality Criteria for Data Use: The NAACCR Narrative. Springfield (IL): North American Association of Central Cancer Registries; 2001.