NIH News Release
National Cancer Institute

Friday, March 17, 2000

NCI Press Office
(301) 496-6641

NCI and CDC Collaborate on a Comprehensive Cancer Surveillance and Control System

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today announced a major collaboration to develop a comprehensive, federally integrated cancer surveillance and cancer control research system, using the resources of both agencies. The joint effort allows the agencies to coordinate training, technical assistance, methodology development, and other aspects of cancer registry management, as well as allow for coordination of major cancer information.

NCI and CDC are responsible for monitoring cancer rates in the United States as well as for building a better understanding of cancer risk factors, lifestyles, screening, clinical care, outcomes, quality of life, and the economics of the cancer burden. These issues affect both NCI's cancer research and CDC and state cancer control programs.

The interagency Memorandum of Understanding was signed Feb. 14, 2000 by CDC Director Jeffrey P. Koplan, M.D., and NCI Director Richard D. Klausner, M.D.

For more than 25 years the NCI has collected and reported authoritative cancer incidence, mortality, and survival data from its Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program. SEER currently covers the states of Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, New Mexico, and Utah, the metropolitan areas of Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles, San Francisco Greater Bay, and Seattle-Puget Sound, and selected populations of American Indians in Arizona, Alaska natives in Alaska, and residents of 10 rural counties in Georgia.

Since the National Program of Cancer Registries (NPCR) was established by the U.S. Congress in 1992, CDC and the states have collaborated to support cancer registries in 45 states, the District of Columbia, and three territories. NCI and CDC have worked together during this period to assure coordination and complementary cancer surveillance activities between the agencies.

"The NPCR and SEER programs together cover virtually the entire U.S. cancer patient population," said Robert Hiatt, M.D., Ph.D., deputy director of the NCI Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences. "By using data from both programs, NCI and CDC will be creating an infrastructure for cancer control and surveillance research efforts nationwide.

"We see this joint effort as critical to moving forward with a national cancer surveillance plan that includes other partners as well, such as the American Cancer Society, the American College of Surgeons, the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries, and the National Cancer Registrar's Association," said Hiatt.

"NCI and CDC have been working with partner organizations for a number of years to assure the availability of a core set of cancer data that both agencies can use to better understand and tackle the burden of cancer in the United States," said Nancy Lee, M.D., director of CDC's Division of Cancer Prevention and Control. "Our two agencies will begin to use pooled data from selected registries that meet national standards of quality. This information will also help direct effective cancer prevention and control programs by giving us data to determine cancer patterns among various groups of people, monitor cancer trends over time, and identify where cancer screening efforts need to be enhanced," said Lee.

NCI and CDC will continue to expand their separate capabilities in their registries, while simultaneously coordinating public release of pooled data. NCI expects to expand SEER coverage to populations that currently are underrepresented in the SEER program, such as American Indians, non-Mexican Hispanics, rural African-Americans, high-poverty Americans, and areas with high cancer mortality rates. In the NPCR, the CDC will continue to work with the states to achieve high national standards for data completeness, timeliness, quality, and use.

Together with NCI and the states, CDC will assess regional and national cancer rates and provide access to data for public use.

Management and governance of the coordinated federal cancer surveillance system will occur through a small team of program experts from NCI and CDC, who will report to their respective agency directors, as well as to the Health and Human Services Data Council.

For more information about cancer, visit NCI's Web site at and the CDC's Web site on cancer information at