What is a Cancer Registrar?

Before we can discuss what a Cancer Registrar is, I suppose we should explain what a Cancer Registry is. A Cancer Registry is an information system designed to collect, manage and analyze data on persons with cancer and certain benign conditions. A Cancer Registrar is a specialty trained health professional who works to collect, and analyze this data. Cancer Registrars can work in many different settings.

  • Hospital Registries gather data on all patients diagnosed and treated in their facility with cancer. Statistics from this data are used in physician research, to aid administrative decisions about cancer services offered and to drive education and screening programs appropriate for the community.
  • State Central Registries gather information from each hospital within the state which is then aggregated by statisticians to assess the cancer burden throughout the state.
  • Software Development Companies create and update the special software databases that are used to collect this data. Registrars work closely with programmers to assure reliable and accurate systems.
    Consulting Firms hire skilled registrars to travel and/or work remotely throughout the country to fill vacant registry positions, or to catch up backlogs of cases.
  • Oncology standard setting organizations are groups that guide how the specific cancer data items are collected and used. Registrars work closely with other professionals to correlate how national changes will affect registrars in hospital and central registry positions.

The duties of a Cancer Registrar are vast and vary based on work setting and from facility to facility. One of the main duties of the hospital Cancer Registrar is to abstract patient data that is used in cancer research and statistics. This is accomplished by reviewing medical records and converting data into codes which is entered into special registry software. Uniform data is collected on each patient which summarizes their demographics, cancer site, histology, stage at diagnosis and treatment information. Each patient abstracted is also updated annually regarding their health status, allowing for survival statistics to be collected. This data is then used by the hospital for research and to aid in facility cancer service decisions. Each hospital also submits their data to central state registries, and national organizations who further analyze it for statistical trends and research. Other duties of a hospital registrar can include analyzing data and writing summary statistical reports, performing quality chart reviews, coordinating special tumor conferences for physicians and coordinating the Cancer Program business meeting among other duties. Registrars who work in hospitals that are accredited by the Commission on Cancer also have added duties to assure their Registry meets the many required standards.

If you would like more information on cancer registrars, please submit your request in the “Contact Us” area and a MoSTRA representative will be glad to communicate with you. Don't be shy, we love to talk about our jobs!