AMN RCS Cancer Registries

When You Have Seen One Cancer Registry, You Haven’t Seen Them All

Hospital-based cancer registries are not regulated by any specific entity on a state or national level. A facility may choose voluntary accreditation by the Commission on Cancer (CoC) or National Cancer Institute (NCI) which has some stipulated requirements for staffing, processes and data quality.

State or regional registries are regulated by the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR) or Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) and have very specific and detailed requirements for operations and management.

There are also specialized cancer registries for pediatrics, brain tumors, lymphoma, leukemia and others. 

Unlike traditional Health Information Management (HIM) credentials, the credential for a Certified Tumor Registrar (C.T.R.) is generalized and does not indicate competency and experience for any specific aspect or location of the job. 


  • Type of facility:
    • Accredited/non-accredited
    • Networked group of providers
    • Individual providers within an institution utilizing same cancer registry
    • Multi-provider University or Community Service setting
    • Physician Group with affiliations with multiple providers
    • NCI
    • SEER
    • Central Registries
  • Organizational chart: To whom does the Cancer Registry report?
    • Health Information Management
    • Clinical Quality
    • Oncology
    • Information Technology
  • Job Description: “Other duties as requested”, may be a lot of extra work!
    • General Cancer Registry Responsibilities: casefinding, abstracting, follow up, data quality monitor and repair, research and analysis of data to address facility requests, report to the State Cancer Registry and address any requests. If accredited, comply with cancer registry accreditation requirements for managing and submitting data as well as attendance of cancer committee.
    • Cancer Registry Management takes years of education and experience, but so does abstracting.  Abstracting is by far one of the most challenging and exacting job functions in a cancer registry.  Without timely and accurate coding that includes meaningful supporting text the contents of the cancer registry database and all subsequent reporting and analysis is meaningless.
    • Compensation varies nation-wide depending on the region, type of reporting institution, “true” job description, education and experience.
    • Non-Cancer Registry Responsibilities: Cancer Conference/Tumor Board attendance, preparation and/or coordination; supplementing and/or managing Survivorship Care Plan processes; acting as Cancer Program Coordinator – monitoring compliance with standards, preparation of reports for Cancer Committee members, preparing Minutes, agendas etc.; clerical support of National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC) , National Accreditation Program for Rectal Cancer (NAPRC) accreditation status and so on.
    • Required Education and Experience:
      • Paid On the Job Training (OJT) as a non-credentialed staff member with no oversight
      • Paid On the Job Training (OJT) as a non-credentialed staff member with credentialed staff oversight (facility CTR or contract)
      • Credentialed staff with less than 3 years’ experience exposed to many aspects of  a hospital cancer registry
      • Credentialed staff with greater than 3 years’ experience working in all aspects of a hospital cancer registry
      • Credentialed staff that are highly trained and experienced; that have also distinguished themselves via education and proven performance to assist in Cancer Program Coordination.

To staff a cancer registry correctly it is required to understand the type of registry and all contributing factors must be weighed with a perspective of meeting the facilities’ current and future needs. Facility size, culture and accreditation all play a significant role in determining the staffing needs of a facility-based cancer registry.


Jennifer Rohleder, BS, CTR and Dianne Cleveland, RHIA, CTR