Cancer Registrars


Exploring this Job

Volunteer positions and internships exist at most state, regional and federal registries, as well as hospitals and not-for profit agencies which focus on cancer education, prevention, and treatment. Mentoring programs are currently being developed across the country, but mostly focus on individuals who are actively engaged in obtaining training in the field. Students at high school levels might wish to seek summer employment in medical records departments of hospitals or health care facilities, or attend national, state, or local conferences of cancer registries.

The Job

Cancer and tumor registrars are on the front lines of data collection, input, and analysis. Specific responsibilities are dependent upon whether the employment is in a hospital or health care facility setting, or for a state, regional or national registry.In both roles, however, the cancer registrar will identify newly diagnosed patients, either by direct interview or review of patient records. 

The cancer registrar is responsible for accurately gathering and inputting data which reflects the age, gender, occupation, relevant personal traits, and geographic locale of each patient. Likewise, it is necessary for the cancer registrar to record the primary site of tumors, the type of tumors and other diagnostic information, as well as gathering and recording information with respect to the stage of cancer of each patient, symptoms, and treatment such as surgeries, radiation, chemotherapy, and other therapies. 

The collection of data by a cancer registrar must be specific, thorough, and ongoing, frequently beginning upon diagnosis with lifetime follow up. Data processing is a significant part of the role of the cancer registrar. Additionally, cancer registrars report findings, as required by the employer, to comply with federal and state reporting requirements. 

In hospital settings, cancer registrars may perform other direct record keeping duties for “in-house” hospital analysis or prepare medical charts and histories for use by physicians and other medical personnel. If employed by state, regional, federal, or other central registries, cancer or tumor registrars may be more actively engaged in research or analysis of the data collected in order to assist in identifying the cause, diagnosis and effective treatments of cancers.

Such information has widespread use and benefits in identifying patterns such as cancer clusters in a specific geographic area or increased incidence of tumors in those holding specific jobs. Most importantly, it allows for a compilation and evaluation of all available treatments and calculation of “cure” or survival rates. The information is used as well in promoting and obtaining funding for further education, research, and treatment.