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Celebrating the Vital Role of Cancer Registrars

By Victor Brunka

This week, April 5th – 9th, 2021, marks the 25th annual National Cancer Registrars Week (NCRW). This year’s theme, “Cancer Registrars: The Driving Force of Cancer Data,” reflects the critical role cancer registrars play in capturing the data that informs cancer prevention and screening programs, treatment, and research.

Cancer registrars are healthcare professionals that collect, analyze, and report cancer data. Details on diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship are collected for every cancer patient in the United States, and the information they collect is reported to the state and federal government, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Cancer Institute.

NCRW is extra special for me this year because it coincides with my 25th anniversary of working with cancer registrars. In 1996, I joined Artificial Intelligence in Medicine (AIM), and we identified cancer registries as a vital but underserviced component in the fight against cancer. I’ve had the pleasure of working many wonderful years with so many extraordinarily diligent individuals.

At AIM, we were the first to introduce practical Artificial Intelligence and Natural Language Processing (AI/NLP) case finding at the registry level. This technology made it possible for me to participate in a wide variety of research projects that were not previously feasible. Along the way, I witnessed the growing professionalism of cancer registrars. Best of all have been the very special regional and national meetings, which have always inspired me with their sense of dedication and purpose.

In 2018, Artificial Intelligence in Medicine was acquired by Inspirata, a leader in cancer data management. Inspirata’s mission is to make every moment matter in the fight against cancer, and this perfectly complemented the cancer registry work we were doing at AIM. New investments by Inspirata have rejuvenated our AI/NLP offerings. At this stage, in 2021, we’re proud to say we’ve optimized the cancer registry workflow with our E-Path software suite, helping to simplify and improve the registry reporting process.

The endgame we’re all working towards is better quality data that is more timely and complete. This would reduce the time to achieve breakthroughs in cancer research and result in more informed population health and policymaking. Another benefit of having better quality data would be the derived insights that could then be applied to adjacent use-cases, such as improving clinical trial matching.

As we celebrate National Cancer Registrars Week, we’d like to offer our friends in the cancer registry community a small token of our appreciation. Those who complete this survey and enter a valid business email address will receive a $10 Starbucks gift card. We would love to hear your commentary on your role as a cancer registrar and why it’s so important to you and the cancer registry community as a whole.

In conclusion, thank you for everything that you do. We’re so proud to work with you and we will continue supporting you in every way that we can. I look forward to the next exciting chapter in registry work!


Tags: cancer informatics, national cancer registrars week, cancer registry