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Donnetta Jackson, Manager of the Tumor Registry and Oncology Accreditation at UC Health, is a Certified Tumor Registrar (CTR). Donnetta has been with UC Health since 2009. When asked what she likes most about her position, she indicates that the field is “constantly changing” so “you have to continually sharpen your skill set.” She finds her work meaningful because the data captured by cancer registrars is of utmost importance to informing cancer research, prevention and treatment programs.
Cancer Registrars serve as data information specialists. Their mission is to capture a complete history, diagnosis, treatment, and health status for every cancer patient in the United States. This curated data provides important cancer statistics and reveals trends. The information collected provides critical information for researchers, healthcare providers, and public officials to better monitor and advance cancer treatments, conduct research and improve cancer prevention and screening programs.
The theme of this year’s National Cancer Registrar Week is “One Data Point at a Time.” Data points help us to better understand the burden of cancer within our region and nationally. By law, patients diagnosed with cancer are added to a national database. Information from the tumor registry entered at the hospital level is eventually reported to state central cancer registries. Subsequently the data reaches the National Cancer Database (NCDB), a “collective repository that provides an in-depth analysis of cancer diagnosis, treatment and survival.”
To become a Certified Tumor Registrar, individuals typically complete college-level courses in cancer and its management, medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, computers in healthcare, biostatistics and epidemiology, cancer data abstracting, database record management, cancer program management, and cancer registry procedures amongst others. In addition, individuals must complete a clinical practicum and pass the Certified Tumor Registrar (CTR) exam. Professionals in the field are required to maintain the CTR credential with continuing education courses.
The Commission on Cancer (CoC) of the American College of Surgeons (ACoS) requires approved cancer programs and cancer registries to meet or exceed a 95% successful follow-up target rate. The principle of following all alive patients until they die remains critical for providing survival statistics. The UC Cancer Center is one of the American College of Surgeon’s Commission on Cancer (CoC) five oldest programs. Since January of 1934, the cancer center has experienced over 88 continuous years of Commission on Cancer (CoC) accreditation.
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