The Netherlands Cancer Registry (NCR) is a rich source of data that is pre-eminently applicable for the evaluation of health policy in oncology. IKNL researchers identify risk factors, monitor the national population-based screening for cancer, and create insight in the data for patients, physicians, and policy makers, aiming to reduce the impact of cancer as much as possible.
In the Netherlands, population screening programmes for oncology have been developed for breast cancer, cervial cancer, and colorectal cancer. The impact of these programmes can be evaluated using the data in the NCR. The effects of population screening are expressed by the changes in disease incidence, stage distribution, survival, and mortality. Furthermore, the data enable the monitoring of screening programme attendance, and the comparison of patient and disease characteristics between patients whose tumours were detected at screening appointments, and those whose tumours were detected in-between appointments.
Each decision within the field of oncologic care and policy is based on figures. Incidence, prevalence, survival, and mortality in the present and past, and trends within time or in geographical regions can be described by using NCR-data. Figures about the number of new diagnosed cancers (indicence) and the number of people affected by cancer still alive (prevalence), give an impression of the magnitude of cancer in the Netherlands. Figures about survival and mortality provide insight in the degree of success of treatment and early diagnosis of cancer.
Variation in exposure to risk factors is reflected by the NCR as well. This can comprise individual risk factors (e.g. nutrition, smoking, sunlight) or factors on a group level (e.g. living environment, socio economic status, etc.). Furthermore, variation can comprise changes over time, within specific geographical locations, and exposure to harmfull substances. This enables identification of points of improvement for campaigns of prevention and/or awareness, of which the effects can be monitored thereafter as well.