Cancer registries are a critical component of cancer programs. Not only are they necessary for data collection required by most states, they are the lynchpin for quality, analysis, reporting and outcome management. The Commission on Cancer’s (CoC) Cancer Program Practice Profile Reports (CP³R) allows programs to compare the care they provide for patients with the care provided by other providers. CP³R currently reports estimated performance rates with 20 quality measures, from 8 primary sites including: breast, colon, rectum, lung, cervix, gastric, ovary and endometrium.

In the past, a cancer registrar’s role was part of medical records and the data collected was rarely accessed. As cancer programs became more sophisticated, however, cancer registry staff evolved as integral members of the cancer team. The registrar is typically in charge of assuring compliance with the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer (ACoS Coc). Along with collecting required data elements, the registrar can assist cancer program leadership in meeting goals for screening activities, clinical care or market growth by collecting additional data and reporting results. In some institutions, the cancer registry assists with analysis for quality studies, data needed for grant applications and identification of new cancer patients for research studies. The Rapid Reporting ACoS Coc requirements now ensure that current data on two major cancers—breast and colon—can meet an institution’s need for more timely information. Data collected in the registry has been utilized to meet meaningful use and American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Quality Oncology Practice Initiative (QOPI) requirements as well.

If you find that registrars are more difficult to recruit or if you face potential facility budget cuts, it might be tempting to neglect your cancer registry or even target it for elimination. But information is power, and the more you know about your patients the better care you can deliver. Your hospital leadership must be cognizant of the need for a cancer registry and the role it plays in a comprehensive cancer program. You don’t have to be an expert—that’s where The Oncology Group comes in. Our cancer registry experts offer education and training, can detail staffing requirements and will outline ways to use your cancer registry data for market analysis, planning and program development.