Cancer registrars are the data management experts who collect cancer data from a variety of sources and report the resulting cancer statistics to various healthcare agencies. The primary responsibility of the cancer registrar is to ensure that timely, accurate, and complete cancer data is collected and maintained on all types of cancer diagnosed and/or treated within an institution or other defined population. Information is entered into a computer database manually or through database linkages and computer interfaces.
Cancer registrars' work goes far beyond simply collecting cancer data. In order to accomplish the goal of preventing and controlling cancer, they also work closely with physicians, administrators, researchers, and health care planners to provide support for cancer program development, ensure compliance of reporting standards, and serve as a valuable resource for cancer information.
Cancer registrars bridge the information gap by capturing a complete summary of a patient's disease from diagnosis to death. The information included in the summary is not limited to the episodic information contained in the health care longitudinal record. Instead, the summary or abstract is an ongoing account of the cancer patient's history, diagnosis, treatment, current status, and outcome of treatment.
In the past, cancer registrars were trained primarily on the job. Today, however, formal education programs at colleges around the country teach cancer data management. Curricula include, but are not limited to, cancer and its management, medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, biostatistics and epidemiology, cancer data abstracting, database record management, cancer program management, and cancer registry procedures. In addition to formal college courses, training is available from programs that vary from one to two weeks in duration and provide an intensive training experience in cancer registry operations. Due to the revolution of the Internet, web-based training modules are also now becoming a viable cancer registrar training tool. By completing this series of online training modules, one may be inspired to pursue cancer registration as a profession.