What is the Manitoba Cancer Registry?

The Manitoba Cancer Registry is a data system designed for the collection, management and analysis of data on all persons in Manitoba with the diagnosis of a malignant neoplasm (cancer). 

CancerCare Manitoba is legally mandated under the Public Health Act to collect, classify and maintain accurate comprehensive information on all cancer cases for the province of Manitoba.

The registry started in 1937 as a basic record of patients who were seen at the province’s first cancer clinic.  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 local hospitals. Since 1956, the Registry has been considered population-based, including demographic information, tumour-specific descriptions, basic treatment information and outcome (survival/death).

The data is collected by Cancer Registrars who are trained and certified health information professionals who collect, classify and maintain this important information.  Cancer Registrars abstract cancer-related data from various sources and encode relevant details utilizing the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) and the International Classification of Diseases for Oncology(ICDO). 

Registrars record details on the type of cancer, place, date, method and stage at diagnosis and other details, including treatment information such as surgery, chemotherapy or radiation.

The Information collected is used for:

  • Epidemiological research- identifying patterns and determinants of cancer
  • Patient care
  • Health Care planning and delivery
  • Education, studies and research projects
  • Planning and evaluating cancer screening programs
  • Annual statistics of cancer incidence, mortality and prevalence in Manitoba
  • Reports to the Canadian Cancer Registry at Statistics Canada
  • Reports to the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries
  • Reports to the International Association of Cancer Registries and the International Agency on Cancer Research – World Health Organization
  • Reports on System Performance Indicators to the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer

The registry also provides cancer data and consultation on statistical analysis and cancer epidemiology to Manitoba Health, the University of Manitoba, provincial, national and international agencies and the private sector.

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.

How is personal information protected?

The Registry respects and protects a patient's right to privacy. Confidential health information is handled under the guidelines of the Personal Health Information Act of Manitoba.

The Registry's records are directly augmented by treatment data from Manitoba Health and pathology reports received from the pathology labs throughout Manitoba. Information is also provided by clinics and hospitals.


The Manitoba Cancer Registry is one of the best and oldest cancer registries in North America. It currently holds the Gold Standard for Registry Certification from the North America Association for Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR) for achieving the highest standard for complete, accurate, and timely data.

NAACCR is a professional organization that develops and promotes uniform data standards for cancer registration; provides education and training; certifies population-based registries; aggregates and publishes data from central cancer registries; and promotes the use of cancer surveillance data and systems for cancer control and epidemiologic research, public health programs, and patient care to reduce the burden of cancer in North America.