Cancer Registrars – The Driving Force of Cancer Data

By Amanda Sangster - April 08, 2021

As the COVID-19 global pandemic continues to unfold, scientists are feverishly studying the impacts on cancer diagnoses and treatments. The research is possible because of data. This vital information collected from patients will be the cornerstone of research on the effects of COVID-19, said Jennie Jones, MSHI-HA, CHDA, CTR, director of the Cancer Registry Department at Moffitt Cancer Center.

“As more studies are conducted on the late and long-term effects of COVID-19 and the impact on diagnosis and treatment of cancer resulting from the pandemic, Cancer Registry data will be incredibly valuable,” said Jones. “Research will have access to consistent, standardized data over time from the Cancer Registry, which can be used in conjunction with other key data, to help identify trends in late-stage cancers at diagnosis and assess the impact of screening delays and treatment delays.”

National Cancer Registrar’s Week is held the second full week of April to celebrate the critical role cancer registrars play in capturing the data that informs cancer research, prevention and treatment programs. Moffitt’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.

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"The tireless efforts of our team in providing data of the highest standards are transformative not only for our patients, but for future generations who will face cancer."

- Jennie Jones, Director of the Cancer Registry Department

In the fight against cancer, the data collected from patients is just as vital as the work done by researchers and physicians. The registry allows experts to find trends in different populations and identify health care disparities. They look to cancer registries for new information on what is working in the fight against cancer, where more can be done and what’s left to be accomplished.

The Cancer Registry team at Moffitt has 28 team members who focus on ensuring that highly accurate and comprehensive data is captured on the more than 15,200 cases reported each year. The data is used by Moffitt researchers and at the state and national level, with the cancer registrars providing information to the Florida Cancer Data System, the Commission on Cancer and the National Cancer Database.

Moffitt’s certified tumor registrars abstract significant data in a highly accurate way — exceeding 95% accuracy. These cancer registrars find meaningful work in the registry, always remembering their data could one day save lives.

Debbie Jordan-Reith, MAT, CTR, certified tumor registrar, says her profession is exceptionally rewarding. Her work allows her to contribute to cancer research by diligently recording the patient story behind the data.

“Each journey is unique to every patient,” said Jordan-Reith. “Their stories provide insight into the many successes that have been accomplished in cancer research, as well as areas of opportunities where more diligent targeted research needs to be focused.”

Edna, wearing glasses and a red shirt, is standing beside her mother who is wearing a floral pattern shirt. Edna has her hand on her mother's shoulder. Both are smiling.
Cruet, certified tumor registrar, said supporting her mother through breast cancer made her job preventing and controlling cancer more gratifying.

Edna Cruet, CTR, case acquisition analyst, said that her own experience watching her mother go through breast cancer brought greater purpose to the work she does for the Cancer Registry.

“I started working in the Cancer Registry Department as a support specialist in 2014 when my 85-year-old mother was diagnosed with breast cancer,” said Cruet. “I remember a nurse telling me at the time, ‘That is why you are working at Moffitt. You have a purpose and a goal to help cancer patients.’ ”

Working as a certified tumor registrar today, Cruet collects information that may be used to help detect cancer earlier, improve treatments and increase survival rates. “There are constant changes to methods of diagnosis, treatment and cancer management, so the job can be challenging but rewarding at the same time,” said Cruet. “To know that we are part of a team that provides an important resource of cancer information with the goal of preventing and controlling cancer is gratifying.”

Moffitt’s Cancer Registry team also participated in the American College of Surgeons COVID-19 Registry. The team has collected crucial clinical data about COVID-19 in patients which will be used in the future to improve the quality of care.

“Having standardized data specific to COVID-19 and the therapies used and patient outcomes will be greatly beneficial for future research,” said Jones. “The tireless efforts of our team in providing data of the highest standards are transformative not only for our patients, but for future generations who will face cancer.”

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