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Wisconsin Cancer Reporting System - Registry Operations

Data Collection

The Wisconsin Cancer Reporting System (WCRS) collects cancer incidence data on Wisconsin residents newly diagnosed with pre-invasive and invasive cancers. 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 electronic format. Hospitals are asked to report cases within six months of initial diagnosis or first admission following a diagnosis elsewhere. Clinics and physicians are expected to 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 and in situ cervical cancer. (For more information about reporting requirements, visit the WCRS cancer reporters website.)

Out-of-state cancer registries provide reports on Wisconsin residents diagnosed in their states to the Wisconsin registry under data exchange agreements with WCRS. Registry records are also matched to the Wisconsin resident death file on a yearly basis to identify cases not reported by the regular reporting process.

For each reported cancer case, WCRS collects timely and important data such as:

  • Demographic information - age, sex, race/ethnicity, county of residence at the time of diagnosis
  • Tumor characteristics - date of diagnosis, primary site, cell type, stage of disease, type of diagnostic confirmation
  • Treatment - cancer-directed treatment including surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, hormone therapy, immunotherapy.

Data Maintenance

Quality control is essential for the approximately 30,000 newly diagnosed cancer cases reported each year. WCRS checks the accuracy of incoming data using nationally approved edits from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and additional edits designed by WCRS. Edit-checking is done on a case-by-case basis. Any inconsistencies or errors are resolved with the reporting facility. After the data have been edited, they are matched with the WCRS registry data base. Those records that do not match are added to the system as newly diagnosed cases. Additional quality control tasks include ongoing monitoring of reporting completeness and timeliness.


WCRS offers training to Wisconsin-based reporting sources through on-site visits, phone, mail, webcasts, and regional training sessions. The training is ongoing and covers timeliness and completeness of reporting as well as data accuracy.

Data Use

WCRS data are available from online data query systems, WISH (Wisconsin Interactive Statistics on Health) and Cancer-Rates.Info, for a variety of requesters such as cancer researchers, hospital cancer registry personnel and governmental agencies (local, state and federal). WCRS publications include Department of Health Services reports, WCRS data bulletins, and collaborative publications. Special data requests are fulfilled by WCRS staff. Confidentiality of the data is strictly maintained according to state statute.

Last revised August 20, 2019