Assessing Completeness

Completeness and accuracy of cancer registry data are essential goals. Reports based on incomplete or inaccurate data can misinform scientists and the public about the true picture of cancer in the central registry’s area.

The speed with which central registry data are collected, processed, analyzed, and reported depends on many factors, some of which are within the registry’s control, and some of which are not. Historically, registrars waited up until 6 months to finalize a case so that all information, specifically treatment, could be abstracted at the same time.

Due to changes in clinical medicine, some treatments can take up to one year, but the demand for current cancer information requires more timely data collection. Efficient data collection methods, computer and software training, telecommunications, and well-trained staff all can influence the timeliness of reporting tumor records from facilities, within limits. Many facilities are capable of concurrent reporting and can complete abstracts in real time. Electronic pathology reporting has expedited case identification and the abstracting process for some reporting facilities and central cancer registries [3External Website Policy].

U.S. cancer registry standard setters and casefinding/completeness/timeliness requirements

  • CoC
    [Refer to Website Policy
  • NPCR
    Annually, NPCR must assess and report on states' compliance with assurances prescribed by the Cancer Registries Amendment Act and with program standards for completeness, timeliness, and quality of their data. State registry data could be used to specifically evaluate NPCR through (but not limited to)
    • Direct measurement of completeness, timeliness, and quality of state data as well as development, testing, and assessment of new parameters of data quality for variables such as race/ethnicity, stage at diagnosis, treatment, occupation/industry, geographic location, etc.
    Monitoring the completeness of casefinding for reporting facilities is a required component of the central registry’s quality control operations. Even when the reporting facilities are performing the casefinding, it ultimately is the central registry’s responsibility to verify that the facilities are reporting all appropriate tumors and to take corrective action when problems are discovered [4External Website Policy].
  • SEER
    Complete casefinding is necessary to ensure that cancer incidence rates are accurate. Both completeness and timeliness are evaluated based on contractual requirements [5].

Updated: December 12, 2023