Methods for providing standardized information on occupation during the collection of work history from patients with cancer were considered. Data may be initially entered into a patient's medical record by physicians, nurses, admitting office personnel, laboratories, and other sources. The next step would be for a specially trained and certified cancer registrar to access the patient's medical record to collect specific data items. When aggregated, these data make up the cancer registry. Through a nationwide initiative known as the National Program of Cancer Registries, state health departments in 42 states and the District of Columbia collected a subset of standardized registry data from facilities for determining the incidence and distribution of cancer cases statewide and for planning and evaluating community wide cancer prevention and control strategies. After the information pertaining to a patient's occupation and industry is entered into a cancer registry or other database, it can be processed for analysis using a coding scheme that groups similar job titles into a standardized classification system. In clinical settings, patients or their surrogates should be asked for information on both current occupation and industry, as well as longest held occupation and industry. The data on occupation should be collected by the hospital personnel responsible for collecting basic demographic information. This information should be collected at the time of each hospitalization or admission; as computerized clinical record systems become more sophisticated, the information may be collected upon enrollment into a health system and updated periodically.