NAACCR, NCRA Partnership for VA Reporting Pays Off


The FY 2024 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill was signed into law by President Biden on March 9, 2024. The new law includes provisions requiring the Department of Veterans Affairs to share qualifying cancer related data with central registries in each state.

The passage of this bill represents a major milestone for cancer surveillance in the US, where reporting by Veterans Health Administration medical centers to state cancer registries has long been fraught with restrictions and red tape. In 2019, it is estimated that more than 23,000 cancer cases among veterans went unreported to central registries. Only 32% of VA facilities that treat cancer were routinely reporting to central registries in 2021. The omission of these cases from state and national cancer datasets not only under-represents the burden of cancer, but also hinders our ability to assess health disparities among veterans.

“Ensuring that all military personnel are reflected in our national cancer statistics is critical to our understanding of cancer not only among veterans, but also as a nation. Including these individuals in the data moving forward will contribute to a more accurate picture of cancer in the US,” said Betsy Kohler, Executive Director of NAACCR.

A National Grassroots Effort

The National Cancer Registrars Association (NCRA) began working with Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ) in 2021 on the Counting Veterans’ Cancer Act, which required reporting of data on veterans diagnosed with cancer to central registries. Identifying potential co-sponsors of the bill was a major focus of the 2022 NCRA Walk on the Hill in Washington, DC. NAACCR staff and members participated in the Walk on the Hill and in meetings with offices of members of the Senate Veterans Affair Committee. NCRA, NAACCR, and all our surveillance partners have been working for over 20 years to improve cancer reporting for veterans through discussions and negotiations with VA. Many central registries worked out reporting agreements for their states, but reporting remained inconsistent across the US. This new bill will go a long way to standardize VA reporting and rectify the under-counting of veterans cancers in US statistics.

Sharing of data with central registries could begin as early as this Fall.

Thank you to all the NAACCR members who participated in this national grassroots effort, working together to make every cancer count!

View the joint NAACCR, NCRA press release.

Read the full text of the bill.

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