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Registering Cancer Patients

July 05, 1987

In a June 21 letter to the editor, a physician called attention to the mandatory reporting of cancer and the requirements of Orange County physicians to report all cases of cancer diagnosed or treated in Orange County.

The principle concern expressed by the author regarding this requirement is the possibility of placing an additional burden on the cancer patient.

In reality, the identification of individuals and their diagnoses will never be public property. The protection of confidentiality within the cancer reporting system of California over the past ten years has been effective; there is no reported case of breach of cancer patient confidentiality.

We feel that beyond the issue of confidentiality, there are other concerns that should be of importance to both the general public and to cancer patients. Cancer treatment in many cases is at best a chancy thing.

The major hope for success in our fight against cancer lies in prevention, and prevention has made great strides in some areas, but only because we have had a data base upon which to build strategies for prevention.

Cancer registries offer to the cancer patient an opportunity to contribute to the search for ways of cancer prevention.

Registries also collect follow-up data about cancer patients undergoing treatment, and out of this follow-up comes an evaluation of the effectiveness of treatment methods so that in addition to offering opportunities for improvement of prevention, registries offer opportunities for the improvement of treatment.

HODA ANTON-GUIRGIS,

Director

B. DWIGHT CULVER, M.D.,

Co-Director

Cancer Surveillance Program

of Orange County

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