Spring 2020 NAACCR Narrative Leave a comment

Stephanie M. Hill, MPH, CTR
Associate Director




The cancer surveillance community expects the current COVID-19 global pandemic to have far-reaching implications for cancer patients, both directly, for those infected with the disease, and indirectly, for patients who may experience delays or changes in their cancer treatment plan due to the availability of health services, the widespread postponement of elective surgeries, and other changes to health care delivery. Organizations such as the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the American College of Surgeons (ACS), and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) have published guidelines and resources for making cancer treatment-related decisions during the COVID-19 outbreak. We recognize that it will be important for registries to monitor, assess and analyze these impacts and their effect on patient outcomes.


In May, NAACCR convened two task forces comprised of representatives from NCI, CDC, NCRA, NAACCR, CoC and central and hospital cancer registries to strategize methods for collecting and documenting COVID-19 infection status and treatment impacts. The groups assessed the feasibility of implementing new data items or modifying existing data items in the registry abstract to capture COVID-19 related data. Ultimately, it was determined that it is not feasible to introduce new data items in the existing NAACCR record layout. Instead, the groups developed guidelines for documenting COVID-19 in existing text fields. The guidelines are available at https://seer.cancer.gov/tools/covid-19/.


In addition, the Mid-Level Tactical Group and High-Level Strategic Group are considering a proposal from the Commission on Cancer to introduce four new COVID-related data items in NAACCR v21, scheduled for implementation in January 2021. Although the deadline for introducing new data items has passed, the groups felt the unprecedented nature of the global pandemic warranted consideration of an exception. If approved, NAACCR will make every attempt to minimize the resulting delay in v21 implementation.


For many central registries, population-based COVID-19 infection status for incident and prevalent cancer patients can be obtained via linkage with the state’s infectious disease surveillance system or electronic laboratory reporting system. NAACCR will be working with our partners over the coming weeks and months to assess the potential for linkages, as well as for targeted special studies. More information on NAACCR’s COVID-19 activities will be available at www.naaccr.org.



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