What is a Cancer Registrar?
A Cancer Registrar is a highly trained individual who works in collaboration with physicians and the healthcare team to collect and report cancer data and information that is mandated by law and cancer program accreditation requirements.
Cancer Registrars are specially trained in the scientific, clinical and pathologic cancer disease process, including the diagnosis, treatment and follow-up management of the cancer patient.
The primary task that a Cancer Registrar performs is a process called abstracting which requires a detailed review of the patient’s medical record where they identify specific data elements needed to accurately describe the patient’s course of care. A comprehensive set of coding rules are applied and the data is manually entered into a specialized database. Other tasks the Cancer Registrar performs includes: casefinding, follow-up, quality control and data analysis.
Ultimately, the purpose of the cancer registry is to consistently and accurately collect high-quality cancer information that is used for cancer control and prevention, such as stop smoking programs, and to develop new treatments and methods to improve patient care and outcomes.
The National Cancer Registrar’s Association (NCRA) is the professional association for cancer registrars in the United States. In addition to overseeing the CTR certification exam, NCRA offers continuing education at its Annual Conference, webinars, and other leadership opportunities for cancer registrars. Introductory courses in Cancer Registry are offered by the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) group and are available online at no charge. These courses do not cover the entire range of knowledge to gain entry into the profession, but they are a good source of basic information.
How to Fast Track a Cancer Registry Career
While becoming a Cancer Registrar is exciting and may not require an advanced academic degree to get started, getting the RIGHT combination of formal education and hands-on work experience is critical. To fast-track your career success and you should seek guidance from an experienced Cancer Registrar, coach and mentor. You can read more about Cancer Registry Career Training and Coaching programs here.
Cancer Registrar Training
Cancer Registrars receive general training in foundational courses such as anatomy and physiology, medical terminology and cancer disease management. Industry-specific training includes cancer treatment methods, cancer staging principles, genetics, oncology best practices, and cancer program management.
Certification programs have been developed for the Cancer Registrar and in most facilities, certification is required before the Registrar can begin abstracting cancer cases. See our page titled CTR Exam on this website, or the NCRA CTR Exam website for more information about the eligibility and maintenance of the cancer registrar certification.