5 Questions with a Cancer Registrar

By Amanda Sangster - April 03, 2023

National Cancer Registrar’s Week is celebrated the first full week of April to recognize the critical role cancer registrars play in capturing the data that informs cancer research, prevention and treatment programs. Moffitt Cancer Center’s registrars abstract high-quality, comprehensive data on patients newly diagnosed and treated for cancer at Moffitt. The work done by cancer registrars helps patients and aids researchers in getting us one step closer to a cure.

In honor of National Cancer Registrars Week, we sat down with Jennie Jones, director of the Cancer Registry/Surveillance Informatics at Moffitt, 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 maintains a comprehensive dataset on all patients diagnosed with and/or treated for cancer at Moffitt, except for basal and squamous cell carcinomas of the skin and in situ tumors of the cervix. As mandated by Florida statute, data is reported to the state and national cancer registries. Cancer Registry data is used in several ways including facilitating research, informing standard of care, publishing nationwide cancer statistics, and contributing to prevention and screening programs.

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"The behind-the-scenes work of the Cancer Registry team is a springboard for the important initiatives clinicians, researchers and public health officials are conducting to improve cancer treatment and prevention."

- Jennie Jones, Director, Cancer Registry/Surveillance Informatics
  1. Why is the cancer registry so important?

The high-quality data curated by the Cancer Registry is used in clinical, research and administrative operations. Cancer Registry data is essential to publishing our patient outcomes, which are up to four times better than the national average. It also feeds into the Moffitt Cancer Analytics Platform (MCAP), the new cloud-based home for data and analytics at the cancer center. Not only is the data used at the cancer center, but it’s also used collectively at the state and national level, playing a critical role in informing cancer research, prevention and treatment programs.

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

Certified Tumor Registrars (CTR) abstract Cancer Registry data at Moffitt. The CTR credential is nationally recognized for the knowledge and training needed to consistently and accurately collect and use cancer registry data in compliance with state and national requirements and standards. Cancer Registry team members manually review all information available in the patient’s electronic health record and other clinical systems. They then apply state and national coding instructions and requirements to synthesize that information into discrete data fields within the abstract in the Cancer Registry database. The team is responsible for providing detailed information related to clinical diagnosis/workup, stage of disease, treatment and survivorship in keeping to the highest standards of quality. 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 recertified annually in Florida. 

  1. 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 initiatives 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 quality care measures, and creating survivorship care plans for our patients. The Moffitt Cancer Registry data is commonly referred to as the “gold standard” for highly accurate data.

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

Did you know that Moffitt is accredited as a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center Program with the Commission on Cancer? The commission is a quality program of the American College of Surgeons. Additionally, the Cancer Registry coordinates the triennial reaccreditation site visit with the commission. Commission on Cancer accreditation recognizes programs for their commitment to providing patient-centric, comprehensive and high-quality care.

Each year, the Florida state registry, Florida Cancer Data System, recognizes cancer registries throughout Florida that meet or exceed the national quality standards for timeliness and completeness in cancer reporting by presenting them with the Jean Byers Award for Excellence in Cancer Registration. Thanks to each of our team members, Moffitt has received an honorable mention for the 2022 Jean Byers Award for 2020 data! This recognizes the team’s diligent work in providing timely, accurate and complete data to the state registry despite the challenges faced. 

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