Manitoba Cancer Registry: A Powerful Tool in the Fight Against Cancer
The Manitoba Cancer Registry has one of the best databases in the world. It started as a basic record of patients with cancer in the 1930s, but over time it has become an essential tool for evidence-based, data-driven decision making that has an immense impact on research and treatment.

At first, the Registry did not record a full snapshot of cancer in the province, only those who were seen at the cancer clinic. That changed in the 1950s when the Registry began documenting cancer cases in the entire Manitoba population, whether they received treatment at CancerCare Manitoba or at local hospitals. Since 1956, the Registry has been considered population-based, including demographic information, tumour-specific descriptions, basic treatment information and outcome (survival/death).

In the 1970s, former Director of Epidemiology Dr. N. Choi, made the first foray into using the registry for epidemiology looking at patterns of the disease and linking those with possible causes.

His successor, Dr. Erich Kliewer, built on this work in the mid-1990s, making a case for expanded use of the Registry. He initiated its connection with Manitoba Health, and the links between provincial health care databases. Those linkages have enabled more detailed work to be done on assessing risk factors, treatment patterns and outcomes (survival).

While these details interest health care researchers, the Registry is much more than a repository for research. It plays an important role in surveillance for use in the management and delivery of cancer services. Indeed, the Registry helps CancerCare Manitoba to answer questions arising from various aspects of cancer control, including how to better prevent cancer, detect it earlier, treat it better and assist those with incurable cancers to live longer and more fully.