The quest for population-level cancer recurrence data; Current deficiencies and targets for improvement

Haejin In, Cassie A. Simon, Jerri Linn Phillips, Mitchell C. Posner, Clifford Y. Ko, David P. Winchester

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background Cancer recurrence is a critical outcome in cancer care. However, population-level recurrence information is currently unavailable. Tumor registries provide an opportunity to generate this information, but require major reform. Our objectives were to (1) determine causes for variability in collection of recurrence, and (2) identify targets for intervention. Methods On-site interviews and observations of tumor registry follow-up procedures were conducted at Commission on Cancer (CoC) accredited hospitals. Information regarding registry resources (caseload, staffing, chart availability), follow-up methods and perceived causes for difficulty in obtaining recurrence information was obtained. Results Seven NCI/academic, 5 comprehensive community and 2 community centers agreed to participate. Hospitals were inconsistent in their investigation of cancer recurrence, resulting in underreporting of rates of recurrence. Hospital characteristics, registry staffing, staff qualifications and medical chart access influenced follow-up practices. Coding standards and definitions for recurrence were suboptimal, resulting in hospital variability of recurrence reporting. Finally, inability to identify cases lost to follow-up in collected data prevents accurate analysis of recurrence rates. Conclusion Tumor registries collect varying degrees of recurrence information and provide the underpinnings to capture population-level cancer recurrence data. Targets for intervention are listed, and provide a roadmap to obtain this critical information in cancer care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)657-662
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Surgical Oncology
Issue number6
StatePublished - May 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • cancer database
  • cancer epidemiology
  • cancer recurrence
  • cancer registrars
  • tumor registries

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Oncology


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