New York State's Cancer Registry Receives Top Ranking

Awarded "Gold" Certification from North American Association of Central Cancer Registries

Albany, June 14, 2001 – State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H. today announced that the New York State Cancer Registry has received a "Gold Standard" certification, meaning that New York's Registry is ranked among the best in North America. The enhanced and improved Cancer Registry resulted from Governor Pataki's $4 million Cancer Surveillance Improvement Initiative, which also includes county and zip code level cancer maps.

Gold certification, indicating that a registry has achieved the highest standard of quality among central cancer registries, was awarded to New York State by the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR). Certification levels of Gold and Silver are awarded based on a rigorous review of cancer registry data timeliness, completeness and quality. Based on submission of 1998 data, New York State's Registry earned the NAACCR Gold certification in all three categories. Last year, New York State received Silver certification based on 1997 Cancer Registry data.

"When I directed the State Health Department to undertake the Cancer Surveillance Improvement Initiative, enhancing the performance of the New York State Cancer Registry was among our primary goals," Governor George E. Pataki said. "We must do everything we can to help identify, track, treat and conduct research on cancer. By improving the Registry, we continue to enhance our ability to do all of those things."

"This Gold certification reflects the hard work and dedication of Health Department staff and cancer registrars across New York State and, importantly, means that our ability to track new cases of cancer has dramatically improved, helping researchers to know more about how the disease is affecting New Yorkers," State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H. said. "It is essential that our State collect the most timely, complete and accurate cancer data because the more we learn about cancer, the greater the possibility of finding better ways to prevent the disease or detect it at an early stage when cancer is most survivable."

To qualify for Gold certification, a registry must meet a number of exacting criteria, including timely availability of the data after the close of a diagnosis year; a completeness level of at least 95 percent, a duplication rate of 0.1 percent or less; and, an error free rate of 99 percent, or better.

From its inception, New York's Cancer Surveillance Improvement Initiative, which includes cancer mapping and other activities to address individuals' concerns about the incidence of cancer in their communities, stressed the importance of having a high quality cancer registry. Availability of complete and reliable Registry data is essential in order to identify unusual disease patterns.

Lorraine Pace, founder of Long Island Breast Cancer HELP, and a member of the Cancer Surveillance Improvement Initiative Advisory Committee said, "As a resident of New York State and a breast cancer survivor since 1992, I'm extremely proud to hear that New York's Cancer Registry has received this high honor. We have made enormous strides under Governor Pataki's administration to address concerns over cancer in our communities and to dramatically improve the State's ability to track where cancer is occurring. The Cancer Surveillance Improvement Initiative has contributed enormously to these positive results and I am honored to be a part of this vital and ongoing effort."

Geri Barish, President of 1–in–9, the Long Island Breast Cancer Action Coalition, said, "We applaud the efforts of Governor Pataki and Commissioner Novello and we look forward to continuing our work with them in finding the causes and cure for breast cancer. Ten years ago in New York State, we were five years behind the rest of the country, and today we're considered to be a Gold Registry."

The New York State Cancer Registry, located in Albany at the New York State Department of Health, collects, processes and reports on information about every New Yorker diagnosed with cancer. The Registry is supported through State funding and a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Registry–one of the nation's oldest–collects a wide variety of information that is available for research and public health planning and evaluation. More than 185,000 cancer reports are received by the New York State Cancer Registry annually. Since 1995, cancer data have been transmitted electronically by hospitals, clinics, laboratories and private physicians over secure telephone lines, replacing the former time consuming and cumbersome process of reporting to the Registry on paper cards.

Registry data can be used to monitor cancer incidence patterns in New York State. Certain data (e.g., cancer incidence rates or the percent of cases diagnosed at an advanced stage of disease) can help to identify areas of the State in need of public health interventions. The data are also useful in evaluating the effectiveness of existing public health programs.

The Cancer Registry plays an important role in research on the causes of cancer. Scientists in the field of epidemiology (the branch of medical science that deals with the incidence, distribution and control of disease within a population) use the Cancer Registry to assist them in their studies.

After agreeing to protect confidentiality, researchers use registry data to identify cancer patients who are willing to provide details about their family medical history, places they lived, where they worked before they were diagnosed with cancer, and other information. These findings are compared to interviews among people without cancer to determine if the cancer patients had significantly different risk factors.

All information reported to the Cancer Registry is protected to maintain patient confidentiality. Before permission is given to use Registry data for research, strict procedures must be in place to protect patients' privacy. Ensuring patient confidentiality is also a priority in the production of cancer maps and other Cancer Surveillance Improvement Initiative activities. A copy of the 1998 Cancer Registry publication can be found on the Department's web site at www.health.state.ny.us.