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U.S. National Institutes of Health National Cancer Institute

Becoming a Cancer Registry Professional

What is a cancer registrar?

According to the National Cancer Registrars Association (NCRA), “cancer registrars capture a complete summary of the history, diagnosis, treatment, and disease status for every cancer patient. Registrars’ work leads to better information that is used in the management of cancer, and ultimately, cures."

Where do cancer registrars work?

Most cancer registrars work in hospitals. Other work settings include central or state cancer registries, standard setting organizations, government agencies, software vendors, pharmaceutical companies, insurance agencies, and staffing firms. Some cancer registrars are self-employed.

What is the employment outlook for cancer registrars?

“The demand for qualified cancer registrars is greater than ever” according to the NCRA. Visit NCRA's Cancer Registrar FAQsExternal Web Site Policy for more information.

How do I become a cancer registrar?

Formal educational programs are available. Many of the programs are offered online. The NCRA SchoolsExternal Web Site Policy site provides a list of their accredited programs.

State and local cancer registry organizations provide education and training. These organizations are valuable sources of information, mentoring, and networking. To find the cancer registry organization in your state or local area, go to the NCRA Resources: State & Local SearchExternal Web Site Policy.

The SEER Program Training web siteExternal Web Site Policy provides web-based training modules for basic cancer registration and surveillance, site-specific modules covering cancers of individual systems and organs in the human body, and informational modules. Many of the modules include self-administered quizzes to test comprehension and retention of the material presented.

What is a CTR?

The Certified Tumor Registrar (CTR) credential is awarded to cancer registry professionals who pass NCRA’s certification examination. The NCRA Council on Certification sets eligibility requirements for the exam. Go to the council’s web siteExternal Web Site Policy for more information.

Where can I obtain more information?