Health Services Data: The Ontario Cancer Registry (a Unique, Linked, and Automated Population-Based Registry)

  • Sujohn Prodhan
  • Mary Jane King
  • Prithwish DeEmail author
  • Julie Gilbert
Reference work entry
Part of the Health Services Research book series (HEALTHSR)


Since its creation in 1964, the Ontario Cancer Registry (OCR) has been an important source of high-quality information on cancer incidence and mortality. As a population-based registry, the OCR can be used to assess the provincial burden of cancer, track the progress of cancer control programs, identify health disparities among subpopulations, plan and improve healthcare, perform health services research, verify clinical guideline adherence, evaluate screening effectiveness, and much more. With over one third of Canadians residing in Ontario, the OCR is the nation’s largest provincial cancer registry and a major contributor to the Canadian Cancer Registry. In 2015 alone, the OCR collected data on an estimated 83,000 malignant cases.

Through its active participation in Canadian, North American, and international standard setting bodies, the OCR adopts the latest methods for registry data collection and reporting. The OCR is created entirely from records generated for purposes other than cancer registration. These records include pathology reports, treatment-level activity, hospital discharges, surgery data, and death certificates. Electronic records are linked at the person level and then “resolved” into incident cases of cancer using a unique computerized medical logic. Recent technological updates to the OCR have further modernized the registry and prepared it for future developments in the field of cancer registration.

This chapter describes the evolution of the OCR, its basic processes and components of automation, data elements, data quality measures, linkage processes, and other aspects of the registry that make it of particular interest to health services researchers and more broadly to the healthcare and public health community.

List of Abbreviations


American Joint Committee on Cancer


Activity Level Reporting


Cancer Care Ontario


Canadian Institute for Health Information


Collaborative Stage


CIHI’s Discharge Abstract Database


Death certificate only


Data sharing agreement


Electronic Cancer Checklist


Enterprise Data Warehouse


Enterprise Data Warehouse based OCR


Electronic Mapping, Reporting, and Coding Plus


Electronic pathology data collection system


International Association of Cancer Registries


International Agency for Research on Cancer


International Cancer Benchmarking Partnership


International Classification of Diseases


International Classification of Diseases for Oncology


Multiple Primary and Histology


North American Association of Central Cancer Registries


CIHI’s National Ambulatory Care Reporting System


Ontario Cancer Registry


Ontario Cancer Registry Information System


Ontario Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation


Regional Cancer Center


Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program


Site-specific factors


Tumor Node Metastasis staging


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Copyright information

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sujohn Prodhan
    • 1
  • Mary Jane King
    • 1
  • Prithwish De
    • 1
    Email author
  • Julie Gilbert
    • 2
  1. 1.Surveillance and Ontario Cancer RegistryCancer Care OntarioTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Planning and Regional ProgramsCancer Care OntarioTorontoCanada

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