Five Questions with a Cancer Registrar

By Staff Writer - April 08, 2019

In honor of National Cancer Registrars Week, we sat down with Jennie Jones, director of the Cancer Registry at Moffitt Cancer Center, to shed light on the very important role cancer registrars play in improving cancer treatment and prevention.

1. What is the cancer registry?

Moffitt’s Cancer Registry team is responsible for collecting and coding detailed information related to clinical diagnosis/workup, stage of disease, treatment, and survivorship from patients’ medical records and storing that information within the institution’s cancer registry database. As mandated by Florida Statute, the cancer cases are reported to the state and national cancer registries. The high-quality data is used in several ways including the facilitation of research, to inform better standards of care, publication of nationwide cancer statistics and to contribute to prevention and screening programs.

2. Why is the cancer registry so important?

The high-quality data collected by the cancer registry really makes an impact on the research we’re conducting and helps to better inform decisions that can directly impact the standard of care – ultimately contributing to a better journey for our patients. Not only is the data used here at Moffitt, but it’s also used collectively at the state and national level – playing a critical role in informing cancer research, prevention and treatment programs.

3. What are the roles and responsibilities of a cancer registrar?

Cancer registrars are certified healthcare professionals who are the subject matter experts when it comes to cancer information and capturing the picture of cancer through data. These data information specialists are trained to extract, store and manage data on the medical history, diagnosis, treatment and health status of cancer patients. This data provides fundamental information used by researchers, providers and others to conduct cancer research, monitor and evaluate cancer treatments, and improve prevention and screening programs. Over 100 data items are collected for each cancer occurrence, each specifically defined by national and local standards and subject to intense quality review on many levels. In order to keep abreast of new and ever-changing scientific findings and treatment guidelines, Cancer Registrars must maintain a high level of continuing education and must be re-certified annually in Florida.  

4. How is the cancer registry impacting the quality of cancer care?

The behind-the-scenes work of the cancer registry team is a springboard for the important work clinicians, researchers and public health officials are conducting to improve cancer treatment and prevention.  The high-quality information afforded by the registry provides the cornerstone for conducting research, assessing alignment with clinical pathways and creating survivorship care plans. The Moffitt Cancer Registry data is utilized as the “gold standard” for new initiatives using Natural Language Processing and Artificial Intelligence in order to find new ways of doing things and create efficiencies.

5. What else is there to know about the cancer registry?

Abstraction of cancer registry data at Moffitt is performed and supervised by Certified Tumor Registrars (CTRs) through the National Cancer Registrars Association (NCRA). The credential is nationally recognized for the ability to consistently and accurately collect and use cancer registry data in compliance with the state and national requirements and standards. The Moffitt Cancer Registry works in partnership with cancer program leadership to coordinate Cancer Committee each quarter and maintain compliance with the American College of Surgeon’s Commission on Cancer (CoC) program standards, maintaining accreditation. CoC accreditation recognizes programs for their commitment to providing patient-centric, comprehensive, and high-quality care.


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