A cancer or tumor register is designed to collect information about the occurrence (incidence) of cancer, the types of cancers (histology) that occur and their locations (topography) within the body, the extent of cancer at the time of diagnosis (disease stage), and the kinds of treatment that patients receive. In the US, these data are reported to a central statewide registry from various medical facilities, including hospitals, physicians' offices, therapeutic radiation facilities, freestanding surgical centers, and pathology laboratories
Data collected by state cancer registries enable public health professionals to better understand and address the cancer burden. Registry data is critical for targeting programs focused on risk-related behaviors (eg, tobacco use and exposure to the sun) or on environmental risk factors (eg, radiation and chemical exposures). Such information is also essential for identifying when and where cancer screening efforts should be enhanced and for monitoring the treatment provided to cancer patients. In addition, reliable registry data are fundamental to a variety of research efforts, including those aimed at evaluating the effectiveness of cancer prevention, control, or treatment programs.
State cancer registries in the US and comparable cancer registries in all countries are designed to:
- Monitor cancer trends over time.
- Determine cancer patterns in various populations.
- Guide planning and evaluation of cancer control programs (eg, determine whether prevention, screening, and treatment efforts are making a difference).
- Help set priorities for allocating health resources.
- Advance clinical, epidemiologic, and health services research.
- Provide information for a national database of cancer incidence.