North Dakota Statewide Cancer Registry recognized for contributions to NAACCR

The North Dakota Statewide Cancer Registry (NDSCR), managed by the Department of Pathology at the UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences (SMHS), has once again received Gold Certification from the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR). This marks the seventh consecutive year that the NDSCR has received gold-level certification.

“The evaluation of central cancer registry incidence data recognizes population-based cancer registries that have achieved excellence in the areas of completeness of case determination, data quality, and timeliness,” noted UND Department of Pathology Chair Mary Ann Sens, M.D., Ph.D. “Achieving this level for seven years straight is a testament to the exceptional team we have in place in North Dakota doing this vital work.”

Over the past two years, the NDSCR has participated in large cancer epidemiology projects coordinated by the NAACCR. One of the projects was to build a Virtual Pooled Registry Cancer Linkage System (VPR-CLS). The VPR-CLS is a new, secure online system where researchers in the state can link their cancer study cohort/data file with registries around the U.S. using a standard linkage process and software. The VPR-CLS also streamlines the process by which North Dakota’s cancer researchers apply for Institutional Review Board approval for their proposed studies.

In addition to the registry’s Gold Certification, Yun (Lucy) Zheng, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Pathology, received recognition for her contribution as an NAACCR Committee Member in 2018-2019, specifically in appreciation for her work on developing the VPR-CLS.

“It’s definitely an honor and a surprise to be awarded by the NAACCR,” Zheng said. “We take this role very seriously at UND and are happy that our efforts are being recognized nationally.”

Dr. Zheng and her team members—Xudong Zhou, M.D., assistant professor of pathology, and Cristina Oancea, Ph.D., assistant professor of public health—recently attended the National Cancer Registrars Association annual meeting in Denver, Colo. Dr. Zheng also participated in an award ceremony at the NAACCR Annual Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, in June. The group has achieved “Registry of Excellence” recognition from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Program of Cancer Registries for the past six years for their achievement in meeting their standards for data completeness and quality. Of the 50 cancer registries supported by the CDC, the NDSCR is one of only 18 that achieved this designation for the most recent data submission, indicating the high-quality data available for cancer prevention and control activities at the local, regional, and national levels. Meeting these standards allows the NDSCR’s data to be included in the United States Cancer Statistics report.

The NDSCR is funded by the CDC/NPCR and brings in $449,000 each year on a grant awarded to Dr. Sens. Its primary goal is to collect information about new cancer cases, cancer treatment, and cancer deaths in North Dakota. Data is reported to the CDC and NAACCR, and is used to monitor cancer trends, promote research, increase survival, inform program development and interventions, guide policy planning, and respond to cancer concerns.