[Cancer registration in Korea: the present and furtherance]

Yoon-Ok Ahn
Journal of Preventive Medicine and Public Health 2007, 40 (4): 265-72
It was not until 1975 that cancer registration was initiated in Korea; voluntary registration of cancer patients of training hospitals throughout the country began under the auspices of the Korean Cancer Society(KCS). However, an official cancer registration, the Korea Central Cancer Registry(KCCR), began on July 1st, 1980. Forty-five training and two non-training hospitals throughout the country initiated registration of patients in whom neoplasms had been found. Data related to case information specified are to be sent to the KCCR at the National Medical Center(it moved at National Cancer Center in 2000). The initial cancer registration of KCS was merged to the KCCR in 1980. Although the KCCR covers most all the large training hospitals in Korea, it cannot provide incidence data. It is, however, the only of its kind in the world, being neither hospital nor population based. The first population based cancer registry(PBCR) was launched in a small county, Kangwha(it has around 80,000 inhabitants), by Yonsei University Medical College in 1983. All data were collected by active methods, and incidence statistics for 1986-1992 appeared in Vol VII of the CI5. Another PBCR, Seoul Cancer Registry(SCR), started in 1991. It was supported by a civilian foundation, the Korean Foundation for Cancer Research. The basic idea of case registration of SCR was the incorporation of KCCR data to PBCR, e. g. dual sources of case registration, i.e., from the KCCR and also including cases diagnosed in small hospitals and other medical facilities. Assessing completeness and validity of case registration of SCR, the program and methodology used by the SCR was later extended to other large cities and areas in Korea, and the PBCR in each area was established. Cancer incidence statistics of Seoul for 1993- 1997, Busan for 1996-1997, and Daegu for 1997-1998, as well as Kangwha for 1993-1997, appeared eventually in Vol VIII of the CI5. The Korean or 'pillar' model for a PBCR is a new one. The KCCR data file is a reliable basis, as a pillar, for a PBCR in each area. The main framework of the model for such a registry is the incorporation of a KCCR data file with data from additionally surveyed cases; the data related to cancer deaths, medical insurance claims, and visit-and abstract surveillance of non-KCCR medical facilities. Cancer registration has been adopted as a national cancer control program by Korean government in 2004 as the Anti-Cancer Act was enacted. Since then, some officers have tried to launch a nation-wide PBCR covering whole country. In the meantime, however, cancer registration was interrupted and discontinued for years due to the Privacy Protection Law, which was solved by an amendment of the Anti-Cancer Act in 2006. It would be premature to establish the nation-wide PBCR in Korea. Instead, continuous efforts to improve the completeness of registration of the KCCR, to progress existing PBCRs, and to expand PBCRs over other areas are still to be devoted. The nation-wide PBCR in Korea will be established eventually with summation of the PBCRs of the Korean model.


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