Toward Precision
Cancer Surveillance

More than 40 in-person participants attended the QIE F2F meeting (pictured here outside of the NCI Shady Grove building). Attendees included representatives from NCI and from registries across the nation. They gathered to discuss SEER quality improvement efforts as well as current data collection issues facing the registries.

The NCI Surveillance Research Program’s Quality Improvement Experts (QIE) team hosted its annual QIE Face-to-Face (F2F) meeting at the NCI Shady Grove campus on August 14-15, 2019. The meeting brought together data quality experts from cancer registries across the country both in person and online to discuss current and future projects, address relevant questions and concerns, and encourage collaboration.

The QIE F2F meeting focused on quality improvement updates for upcoming audit plans as well as discussion of data collection issues faced by the registries.

QIE Updates

NCI has been working on a large project looking at neoadjuvant therapy and treatment activities. One session consisted of discussions about leveraging SEER data, such as to investigate the use of pre-operative systemic treatment. The goal of this research is to develop an algorithm using existing SEER data that will accurately ascertain someone’s likelihood of having received neoadjuvant therapy. While the algorithm is still in the beginning stages of development, the team’s next steps include integrating more variables and testing the algorithm in a secondary cancer site.

NCI QIE experts provided updates on the current status of reliability studies, field testing, and the consolidation process. To date, many registrars have participated in the reliability studies, helping NCI exceed their participation goal. Currently, the team is in the reconciliation process for final edit approval consolidation, with about 95% completion; more comprehensive edits of codes will be put in place for SEER and be made available for NAACCR as well.

NCI is hoping to create a group of rare cancer specialists to assist in the collection of rare cancer data. This topic raised a few questions and concerns from the registrars in attendance, particularly around turnover, consolidation, and prioritizing work load when answering to other states. This is a project that is still in the early development stages, and NCI hopes to continue to collaborate with registries to make this process as smooth as possible for everyone involved.

The NCI QIE team gave an overview of current and upcoming focused audits during breakout sessions: Melanoma Tumor Depth, Human Papillomavirus (HPV), and Circumferential Resection Margin. The QIE team also introduced an upcoming audit plan for treatment status variables. The breakout sessions enabled the registry representatives to share valuable feedback with NCI representatives on the audits in progress.

Areas of Improvement

Designated discussion and Q&A times enabled participating registrars to voice concerns. Some registrars’ concerns related to software updates and their effect on the attainment of data. Attendees brought to NCI’s attention that these software updates may be delaying data collection, and that software vendors are not providing registries with the data they need to complete their submissions. NCI experts will work in collaboration with CDC, NAACCR, and vendors to ensure that the registries’ needs are met.

Looking Ahead

NCI representatives stressed how important these F2F meetings are to ensure collaboration and understanding. As these and other projects move forward, the NCI QIE team hopes to continue to build relationships with registries. These essential relationships and project collaborations will ensure that the data collection produces consistent and relevant results to advance cancer research.