Utilizing SEER cancer registries for population-based cancer survivor epidemiologic studies: a feasibility study

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Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention


Background: While the primary role of central cancer registries in the United States is to provide vital information needed for cancer surveillance and control, these registries can also be leveraged for population-based epidemiologic studies of cancer survivors. This study was undertaken to assess the feasibility of using the NCI’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program registries to rapidly identify, recruit, and enroll individuals for survivor research studies and to assess their willingness to engage in a variety of research activities. Methods: In 2016 and 2017, six SEER registries recruited both recently diagnosed and longer-term survivors with early age–onset multiple myeloma or colorectal, breast, prostate, or ovarian cancer. Potential participants were asked to complete a survey, providing data on demographics, health, and their willingness to participate in various aspects of research studies. Results: Response rates across the registries ranged from 24.9% to 46.9%, with sample sizes of 115 to 239 enrolled by each registry over a 12- to 18-month period. Among the 992 total respondents, 90% answered that they would be willing to fill out a survey for a future research study, 91% reported that they would donate a biospecimen of some type, and approximately 82% reported that they would consent to have their medical records accessed for research. Conclusions: This study demonstrated the feasibility of leveraging SEER registries to recruit a geographically and racially diverse group of cancer survivors. Impact: Central cancer registries are a source of high-quality data that can be utilized to conduct population-based cancer survivor studies.

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