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National Cancer Registry, National Health Laboratory Service


The National Cancer Registry(NCR) was established in 1986 and is South Africa’s main cancer statistics source; it collates and analyses cancer cases diagnosed in pathology laboratories (both public and private) nationwide and reports annual cancer incidence rates stratified by sex, age and population groups. Although the NCR is a pathology-based cancer registry, resulting in under-reporting of some malignancies, the published data has been used extensively to inform development of the draft national policy guidelines for cancer prevention and control, to inform cancer research and for teaching purposes. These data are also used by many other sectors with a keen interest in cancers to inform their policy decision-making processes and/or intervention programs.


The NCR collaborates with a number of local and international experts on cancer-related research. The main platform of the NCR research has been the Johannesburg Cancer Study (JCS). This case-control study, established in 1995, aimed to determine the risk factors for cancer amongst the Black African population in South Africa. Over 21 000 cancer patients have been recruited to the study with more than 90% having donated a blood sample. The study is able to store the blood samples for future cancer research.

Samples of blood collected from prostate cancer patients in the JCS will be shared with the CPGR and CIDR for genetic analyses in the MAD-CaP study.

Cancer Surveillance and Epidemiology Training

The mandates of the NCR include cancer surveillance, research and teaching/training. With the availability of the JCS database and the larger cancer surveillance databases, the NCR provides a wealth of opportunity for student training in epidemiology and biostatistics. Our collaborations with the University of Bern, Switzerland and the University of Witwatersrand has allowed the use of the NCR data for Masters and PhD degrees, thus enhancing cancer research and surveillance skills in South Africa and the African region.

National Health Laboratory Services, Johannesburg, S. Africa
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