History of Cancer Reporting

Population-based cancer reporting in the San Francisco Bay Area began in 1969 when Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo counties participated in the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Third National Cancer Survey. 


In 1973, these counties became part of NCI’s newly created Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) Program, an ongoing cancer monitoring endeavor. The San Francisco Bay Area Registry was operated within the California Department of Health Services until 1982, when it moved to the Cancer Prevention Institute of California (CPIC) - then known as the Northern California Cancer Center.

In 1987, cancer reporting became mandatory throughout the state of California, as established by Assembly Bill 136. This legislation designated cancer as a reportable disease and created the statewide California Cancer Registry (CCR), which has 10 regional registries reporting to the central registry. Statewide cancer incidence data reporting was effective as of January 1, 1988. CPIC’s Greater Bay Area Cancer Registry (GBACR) collects data for two of CCR's 10 regions: Region 8 (San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin and San Mateo counties), and Region 1 (Monterey, San Benito, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties).

Today, the GBACR receives information on all cancers diagnosed and/or treated (except for basal and squamous cell skin cancer) within the nine-county area. This information, collected in a standardized format, includes data required by the SEER Program and the California Department of Public Health as well as other items recommended by the American College of Surgeons and those of regional interest.

Cancer registrars work both at CPIC and reporting facilities (e.g., hospitals) to extract information from medical records and enter it into cancer reporting software, from which it is electronically added to the statewide database after careful review and quality control by GBACR staff. Each year, the GBACR processes approximately 50,000 reported cancers, which include over 35,000 newly diagnosed cases. Currently, the registry database contains information on over 900,000 total cases. 

As a SEER Registry, the GBACR maintains some of the highest quality control measures among cancer registries globally (SEER's Quality Control Measures). Quality control measures are employed at every phase of data collection, including casefinding, data entry and recoding; an extensive set of edits are applied to identify and correct errors. These approaches have led GBACR data o be of the highest quality, as recognized by national and international registry standard-setting organizations, including SEER, the National Program for Cancer Registries, and the North America Association for Central Cancer Registries.



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