Cancer Registrars: The Driving Force

Suzanne Neve, RHIA, CTR - Director, Cancer Registry NCRA Leave a Comment

Cancer Registrars: The Driving Force

If you have not heard yet, National Cancer Registrar’s Week (NCRW) is happening this week, April 5-9, 2021. We encourage you to join us by reaching out to your Cancer Registrar(s) to learn more about the work they do and to thank them for their service. This year’s theme, Cancer Registrars: The Driving Force of Cancer Data, underscores the role registrars expertly fill in capturing the data used in cancer research, prevention, and treatment programs worldwide.

For the past 25 years an awareness campaign has been conducted each year during April to highlight the research performed by this amazing group of healthcare professionals. Cancer Registrars provide information to treat, prevent, and fight cancer not only in your community, but also across the United States and internationally. Registry data is used to develop strategic plans, shape policies, monitor trends, and promote research. In our communities this information is used to educate the public on cancer prevention, health, and wellness.  

Cancer Registrars are primarily responsible for ensuring that cancer data is collected in an accurate and timely manner on all types of cancer that is diagnosed and/or treated within a facility or a defined population of people. Information is entered into a computer database both manually and from automated links or interfaces to other computer systems.  

But there is more. A Cancer Registrars’ work goes well beyond. They also work in partnership with physicians, researchers, and health care administrators to support the vision and goals of the cancer program, ensure compliance with the reporting standards and are valuable resources that provide the cancer information used in the prevention and control of cancer and chronic disease surveillance.  

Cancer Registrars are data information specialists who gather a complete demographic and medical history, diagnosis, stage, treatment, and health status on every cancer patient in the United States. This curated data provides essential information used by scientists, physicians, and public health officials to monitor and develop better cancer treatments, further research and to plan and conduct cancer prevention and screening programs.  

The data collected is also used to:

  • Calculate the incidence of cancer in a facility, community, state, or nation,
  • Analyze the effectiveness of the different types of cancer treatments,
  • Determine survival rates for each of the types of cancer,
  • Develop educational and cancer screening programs for the public,
  • Facilitate the development and conduct of clinical research studies.

The tasks that Cancer Registrar’s use can be complex and take many months to complete once the patient is first diagnosed. For example, a woman with breast cancer who is diagnosed, undergoes surgery followed by chemotherapy, radiation and then hormonal treatment may actively receive treatment for 12-18 months or longer. The Cancer Registrar follows the patient through this entire continuum of care and updates the case record in the data management system with new or ongoing treatment information. The NCRA has published a case study on The Role of the Cancer Registrar in the Flow of Cancer Information that you can download for free. This case study provides an overview of the type of tasks or work performed by a Cancer Registrar.  

If you would like to learn more about Cancer Registrars, or are interested in becoming a highly trained member of the Cancer Registry profession, click here to learn more.  

We want to take this opportunity to thank Cancer Registrars everywhere for their dedicated service as data management experts in cancer care! Congratulations as you celebrate the 25th annual National Cancer Registrar’s Week.  

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