Friday, April 15, 2016 12:54 PM

Our data miners at the heart of improving cancer care

This past week cancer registrars throughout the world were honored as part of the 20th annual National Cancer Registrars week. These staff play a crucial role in the fight against cancer helping us capture the data used by researchers and medical professionals to advance cancer research and improve cancer prevention and treatment programs.

And although the official recognition is only 20 years old, we’ve been collecting records of cancer patients diagnosed at Community Medical Centers’ facilities since the 1960s and Community Regional has had a cancer registry since the early 1970s. In 1977 we were approved by the American College of Surgeons as a Community Cancer Program and with the help of the UCSF residency program in 1997 we were approved as one of the highest ACOS Teaching Hospital Accreditation levels.

Community has five certified Cancer Registrars and one office assistant to abstract the data on more than 3,400 patients per year and follow over 15,000 per year. Impressive statistics!

Our data information specialists collect and code patient-level data for cancer registries and these cancer registries provide essential information to healthcare providers and health officials to better monitor and improve cancer treatment, conduct research, and target cancer prevention and screening programs. Because of their work we know that more than half of the cancers we diagnose and treat here in the Valley are gastrointestinal, breast, prostate, lung, gynecology and hematology cancers.

That information is both submitted to, and utilized by, state and national cancer registries to enable cancer programs to accurately determine cancer patient populations, measure outcomes of treatment and survival, and formulate plans for improvement. The data are included in numerous publications including the prestigious Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, a collaboration of the American Cancer Society, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Cancer Institute, and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries.

This year’s theme for the national recognition week — Cancer Registrars: The Heart of Improving Cancer Care — perfectly sums up how we at Community feel about these important team members. Thank you for the important work you do!

Paul Ortiz
VP of Cancer Care Services
Community Medical Centers