Cancer Registry

The Virginia Mason Cancer Registry is a hospital-based cancer information center. Cancer registrar's collect diagnosis and treatment information on all cancer patients diagnosed or treated at any of its medical centers. Virginia Mason is required by state and federal law to report this information. In addition, registry data is used to review outcomes and survival statistics, assist with clinical research, publications and marketing needs.

Frequently Asked Questions About Virginia Mason's Cancer Registry:

  1. What is the Virginia Mason Cancer Registry?
  2. How does the Cancer Registry work?
  3. If the registry collects data, is my patient information still confidential?
  4. How is this registry information used?
  5. How does the Cancer Registry benefit patients?
  6. How did cancer registries get started?

What is the Virginia Mason Cancer Registry?

The Virginia Mason Cancer Registry is a department that collects information about cancer cases to help improve the quality of care and to support the search for new cures for cancer.

How does the Cancer Registry work?

We collect data on diagnosis, treatment, results, and other relevant information for all cancer and some non-cancer patients treated at a Virginia Mason facility.We gather this from the patient's medical records chart.

State law requires that this information be reported in an effort to aid in better understanding the best methods for treating cancer.

Once gathered, the data about how a particular cancer is diagnosed and treated is then tracked and analyzed. We look for patterns that tell us if some treatments appear to be more successful than others. Maybe a new approach to breast cancer treatment is working better than treatments in other regions. Or maybe we're finding that a technique is improving the life span or quality of life for our cancer patients.

We then summarize our findings by preparing reports, presenting conferences for physicians or publishing articles in professional medical journals.

Whatever the case, the physicians who obtain this information then are able to have the latest data about what is working best in cancer care for us at Virginia Mason. In turn, they can use these newer, more effective methods, in caring for their existing patients.

By studying the data gathered through this center, experts gain a better understanding of cancer and its treatments. Our cancer registry is actually a department of our Cancer Institute, and is important to us for two reasons: it improves care through education and research, and it provides follow-up contact with patients.

A registry is required to collect follow-up information for each cancer patient every 12-15 months to determine what is occurring medically with the patient. The primary sources of this information is the patient medical record. Because the registry's follow-up is for the life of the patient, we gain the most complete information about the role of the cancer and its treatment in the patient's life.

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If the registry collects data, is my patient information still confidential?

Yes, this information is treated with the same confidentiality as any other medical record would be.

How is this registry information used?

At Virginia Mason, registry data may be used to:

  • Identify cases meeting certain criteria for further study
  • Provide follow-up information on cancer patients identified for evaluation of patient care, treatment, survival and early detection of recurrent disease
  • Calculate survival rates by site, stage of disease, sex and other attributes
  • Develop criteria and procedures to evaluate the quality of patient care
  • Coordinate the overall cancer program activities in a way that will provide the best patient care available
  • Analyze referral patterns of cancer patients to identify the need for future health care facilities

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How does the Cancer Registry benefit patients?

By collecting information on every cancer patient's progress, we can better determine what treatments are working best for different types of cancer, and help in the search for new cures.

How did cancer registries get started?

In 1956, the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer decided to require a hospital-based cancer registry for all approved cancer programs, in an effort to improve the quality of care for cancer patients.

As part of their fight against cancer, the American College of Surgeons offers an accreditation to select cancer programs who meet their rigorous standards of performance on prevention, diagnosis and treatment. To date, there are more than 1,400 accredited cancer programs in the United States — representing one-fourth of all hospitals who have cancer programs. These accredited programs treat 82 percent of newly diagnosed patients with cancer.

Virginia Mason's Cancer Institute and Registry is one of those select accredited programs, reflecting on our successful track record for showing leadership in cancer care.

For more information:

If you have questions about the Cancer Registry, contact us:

Cancer Registry Manager
Mailstop D2-208
Virginia Mason
1100 Ninth Ave.
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 223-6903

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