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Wisconsin Cancer Reporting System: Background Legislation

State Legislation

The Wisconsin Cancer Reporting System (WCRS) was established in 1976 to collect cancer incidence data on Wisconsin residents as mandated by Wis. Stat. § 255.04, Cancer Reporting. The statute specifies that all cancer cases must be reported to the state cancer registry in the manner prescribed by the Department of Health Services. Under the statute, the Department prescribes to all reporting facilities (a) the form on which the cancer report shall be submitted, (b) the time schedule under which the report shall be submitted, and (c) the types of cancer and precancerous conditions to be reported. The statute also requires that data shall remain confidential.

In compliance with state law, hospitals, physicians, and clinics report cancer cases to the WCRS, in the Division of Public Health, Wisconsin Department of Health Services. In fulfilling the state mandate, WCRS specifies that cancer case submission be based on the "Neoplasm Record/Report," in either electronic or paper format. Hospitals must report cases within six months of initial diagnosis or first admission following a diagnosis elsewhere. Clinics and physicians must report cases within three months of initial diagnosis or contact. All tumors with malignant cell types are reportable except basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas of the skin.

Federal Legislation

In 1994, WCRS was enhanced by the Cancer Registries Amendment Act (Public Law 102-515), which established the National Program of Cancer Registries (NPCR). This national legislation authorized the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide funds to states and territories to improve existing cancer registries; to plan and implement registries where they do not exist; to develop model legislation and regulation for states to enhance viability of registry operations; to set standards for completeness, timeliness and quality; and to provide training.

In October 2002, Public Law 107-260, the Benign Brain Tumor Cancer Registries Amendment Act, was passed. This federal mandate requires cancer registries participating in the National Program of Cancer Registries (NPCR) to collect data on all benign, borderline and malignant tumors of the central nervous system in addition to the previously required data on malignant tumors. Data collection for the additional nonmalignant primary and intracranial central nervous system tumors started with cases diagnosed on January 1, 2004.

The federally funded NPCR currently encompasses 45 states and the District of Columbia. More information about the NPCR may be found at


Last revised March 25, 2021