We undertake a range of public health surveillance and health protection functions:
- monitoring trends in cancer incidence, prevalence and survival over time and between different areas and social groups;
- evaluating the effectiveness of cancer prevention and screening programmes. For example, population based data are required to monitor the effectiveness of the existing national screening programmes for breast and cervical cancer and to inform the design of new programmes, e.g. screening for colorectal and ovarian cancer;
- evaluating the quality and outcomes of cancer care by providing comparative data about treatment patterns and outcomes;
- evaluating the impact of environmental and social factors on cancer risk. For example, cancer registry data are used to investigate possible cancer risks in relation to power lines, landfill sites and mobile phones. Cancer registry data are also used to investigate differences in cancer incidence, survival and access to treatment between social groups and thus contribute to programmes aimed at reducing inequalities in health outcomes;
- supporting investigations into the causes of cancer.