Cancer registries in resource-constrained countries can inform policy to reduce cancer burden

Special issue published in Cancer Epidemiology demonstrates that registration costs as little as $0.01 per person and can influence policies on cancer prevention, early diagnosis and treatment


RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC-- Data from population-based cancer registries are vital for informing health programs, policies and strategies for cancer screening and treatment. A special issue of Cancer Epidemiology, prepared under the auspices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, offers lessons for planning and supporting cancer registration in resource-constrained settings to support data-driven policies on cancer prevention, early detection and appropriate treatment leading to significant cost savings for government and society as a whole.

The guest editors of the special issue, Florence Tangka, P.h.D., and Mona Saraiya, M.D. of the CDC, and Sujha Subramanian, Ph.D., and Patrick Edwards of RTI International, note that there are substantial differences in the existence, geographical coverage and quality of cancer registration across the world.

“There is almost 100 percemt coverage in North America, but less than 10 percent in Central and South America, Asia and Africa," Tangka said. "These countries are essentially fighting cancer blindfolded as they often can’t know how to best direct their resources.”

"The articles in the special issue show that lack of continuous and sustained support for surveillance infrastructure can disrupt data collection and lead to the inefficient use of resources," Subramanian said. "Although cancer registries incur substantial set-up costs, once established the cost per case is low and countries then benefit from economies of scale. This special issue of Cancer Epidemiology establishes baseline information to identify efficiencies in data collection, which is consistently reported as a high cost for registries. We hope that these findings will encourage other countries to establish registries.”

The special issue reviews cancer registries in Kenya, Uganda, Colombia, India (Mumbai), and Barbados. and offers lessons for other countries with similar resource constraints.