The National Tumor Registrars Association (NTRA) was chartered on May 14, 1974, in Dallas, TX. The efforts to establish a non-profit, national organization representing cancer registry professionals began in the spring of 1972 in San Francisco, CA, at a two-week seminar of cancer registrars. Seven of the attendants formed an ad-hoc committee to study the need for, and feasibility of, a national organization. The committee members were from different geographical areas of the country and the work was done via long-distance phone calls and snail mail. With the help of the American College of Surgeons, the committee conducted a mail survey of cancer registrars in all facilities with approved cancer programs and with the CEOs of these facilities to determine if an organization was needed, and, if established, would it be supported. The results indicated there were both a need and the required support to move forward.
The ad-hoc committee drafted by-laws and other required documents. The committee was expanded to include additional members to help plan a formal organizational meeting. The meeting was scheduled for May 13-14, 1974, in Dallas. Invitations were extended to cancer registrars across the U.S. Those in attendance reviewed and edited the committee’s drafts of the by-laws and other formal documents. The final versions were voted on by those in attendance and the National Tumor Registrars Association was established. Officers were elected and charged with developing an annual meeting schedule. Annual dues were set at $15. The officers included: Tim Richardson, President, (Ohio); Barbara Lord, President-elect (California); Vida Peterson, Vice President (Pennsylvania); Frances Wedge, Secretary (Washington, DC); Jeanne Ratti, Corresponding Secretary (New Jersey); and Marie Maxfield, Treasurer (Texas). President Richardson appointed Barbara Wade (California) to serve as parliamentarian. In 1993, the NTRA became the National Cancer Registrars Association. The original by-laws noted that the purpose of the NTRA was to: promote research and education in Tumor Registration administration so that we may be of greater service to the cancer patient; establish standards of education for tumor registrars; provide a regulated systematic course of study for tumor registrars; raise the level of knowledge and performance of tumor registrars through continuing education; disseminate information to members of this Association regarding current activities, research, and trends the cancer field; and initiate and/or participate in programs to improve and standardize the compiling tumor registry information.
The first hospital registry was established at Yale-New Haven Hospital in New Haven, CT, in 1926, and the first central or state registry was established in Connecticut in 1935. In 1956, the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons supported the development of hospital-based registries by requiring a cancer registry for approved cancer programs. In 1971, the National Cancer Act budgeted monies to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) for research, detection, and treatment of cancer and, in 1973, the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) Program of NCI established the first national cancer registry. In October 1992, Congress established a National Program of Cancer Registries (Public Law 102-515, The Cancer Registries Amendment Act). The legislation authorized the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to provide funds to states and territories to enhance existing cancer registries and to plan and implement registries where they do not exist. In 1995, 42 states and the District of Columbia received CDC support for cancer registries. Today, the CDC supports forty-five states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Pacific Island jurisdictions.
Cancer registrars are data information specialists that capture a complete history, diagnosis, treatment, and health status for every cancer patient in the U.S. The curated data provides essential information to researchers, healthcare providers, and public health officials to better monitor and advance cancer treatments, conduct research, and improve cancer prevention and screening programs. Learn more about how to become a cancer registrar and how cancer registry data is used to improve public health.