Cancer registrars are data management experts who report cancer statistics for various healthcare agencies. Registrars work closely with physicians, administrators, researchers, and health care planners to provide support for cancer program development, ensure compliance of reporting standards, and serve as a valuable resource for cancer information with the ultimate goal of preventing and controlling cancer. The cancer registrar is involved in managing and analyzing clinical cancer information for the purpose of education, research, and outcome measurement.

The primary responsibility of the cancer registrar is to ensure that timely, accurate, and complete data is incorporated and maintained on all types of cancer diagnosed and/or treated within an institution or other defined population. Information is entered into the database manually and through database linkage and computer interfaces.

Cancer registrars bridge the information gap by capturing a complete summary of the patient's disease from diagnosis through their lifetime. The information is not limited to the episodic information contained in the health care facility record. The summary or abstract is an ongoing account of the cancer patient's history, diagnosis, treatment, and current status.

In addition to managing and reporting cancer data, registrars serve in multiple other professional activities. Cancer registrars participate in cancer program, institution, and community benefit activities as part of the active leadership structure. Registrars provide benchmarking services, monitor quality of care and clinical practice guidelines, assess patterns of care and referrals, and monitor adverse outcomes including mortality and co-morbidity. Cancer registrars can provide consultative services on many issues including registry management and program standards.

What Does a Cancer Registrar Do?

Cancer registrars play an important role in cancer data management. Cancer registrars are required to collect, analyze, and disseminate cancer data. Specific duties include:

  • Identifying reportable cancers.
  • Abstracting patient cancer data from patient records, pathology, radiology and other reports.
  • Coding and staging primary site, histology and extent of disease.
  • Monitoring timeliness, completeness, and accuracy of cancer data.
  • Performing cancer patient follow-up activities to identify second primaries, recurrences, and spread of disease.
  • Reporting cancer data to health care officials, hospital administrators, physician regulatory agencies for use in cancer prevention and control.
  • Assisting medical staff and epidemiologists in special studies and research.
  • Supervising staff.
  • Assuring patient privacy with data integrity and security.

Why Choose Cancer Information Management?

  • The program is 100% online and was created with the working adult in mind.
  • You will learn by doing through internships.
  • Specialize in the coding and collection of timely, accurate, and complete cancer data
  • Serve as a valuable resource for cancer information with the ultimate goal of preventing and controlling cancer.
  • You will become a critical member of the healthcare team.
  • No needles - you will work behind the scenes in the healthcare system without ever having direct patient care responsibilities.

Accreditation Status

The Southwest Tech Cancer Information Management program is accredited by the National Cancer Registrars Association (NCRA).

  • Overview
  • Is This Program for You?

    Students entering the Cancer Information Management program should:

    • Be interested in working in health care, but not directly with patients.
    • Be detail oriented.
    • Have an aptitude for science, but also like management, law, and computers.
    • Enjoy working with professionals: physicians, nurses, lawyers, administrators and executives.
    • Want a career where you can choose to work on your own, with others, or some of both.
    • Have a strong knowledge of medical terminology.
    • Employ good critical thinking and communication skills.

    Program Basics

    • Associate degree, requiring a minimum of two years to complete.
    • All courses offered online allowing for 100% flexibility.
    • Financial aid is available to those that qualify
    • Students must achieve a grade of C or better in each course of the program curriculum to be eligible to progress
    • Credits transferrable for a Bachelor's degree in Health Information Management
  • Curriculum & Costs
  • Requirements
  • Admission and Program Requirements

    • Submit Application
    • To make sure your classes are the right fit, we consider any previous college credit you've earned, Accuplacer or ACT scores, high school GPA, or an assessment at your registration session. Submit High School Transcripts, College Transcripts, and Test Scores to: Southwest Tech, Attn: Admissions, 1800 Bronson Blvd, Fennimore, WI 53809
    • Admissions Meeting: After applying and submitting transcripts, make an admissions meeting with the advisor by clicking "Make an appointment" in the Advisor block on this page.

    Requirements for Online Students

    Chromebooks are not compatible with some testing features within Schoology (our Learning Management System). Southwest Tech recommends not to use Chromebooks for classes.

    • Cable/broadband/DSL internet with a minimum speed of 1.5Mbps. You can test your local internet speed at Run this test from the location you will be working from.

      Higher bandwidth and speed will greatly assist you in your online learning environment, so where possible, a faster internet speed is recommended. Cable internet tend to be faster than DSL or 4G wireless, although DSL or 4G wireless may also work depending on other factors. Your computer, other software (such as anti spyware), other users on the system, and system configurations can all influence your ultimate line speed. Many instructors use videos as a part of their instruction, as well as synchronous meeting times (Skype, Adobe Connect, etc). Having an acceptable internet connection speed will be important to your success.

    • Convenient access to a computer that has one of the following current versions of Internet Browsers:
      • Microsoft Internet Explorer
      • Mozilla Firefox
      • Google Chrome
      • Safari
      Call 608.822.2302 for verification of other browsers.
    • An active e-mail account (all Southwest Tech students are issued a free email account)
    • Word processing software (Microsoft Word is the recommended word processing software at Southwest Wisconsin Technical College). Free Microsoft Office software is available to all Southwest Tech students at
    • Availability of 10-15 hours per week for each 3-credit course
    • Self-motivation and self-discipline

    Helpful Academic Background

    • Keyboarding and basic computer skills
    • Biological Sciences

    Program Fees

    • This program is eligible for Financial Aid.
    • Estimated cost for each semester can be found under the Curriculum tab. Please note that costs are approximate and are based on the current academic year.
    • Please discuss additional fee questions with the program advisor or instructor.
  • Outcomes
  • Program Outcomes

    • Demonstrate knowledge of the cancer program organization's structure, operations and functions including Cancer Conference, Cancer Committee and Commission on Cancer.
    • Define the standard setters, agencies and organizations involved in cancer data abstraction and data standardization, as well as their responsibilities.
    • Apply fundamental concepts of the oncology disease process incorporating diagnostic and staging procedures (lab, imaging, surgery and pathology) and treatment modalities (surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and immunotherapy) with an emphasis of major cancer sites.
    • Analyze documentation to identify and report neoplasms, patient demographics, code diagnostic findings and cancer information including primary site, histology, stage and treatment.
    • Monitor and maintain case abstraction through annual lifetime follow up for treatment, recurrence, cancer status and patient status for outcome information.
    • Conduct statistical analysis and prepare data presentations related to epidemiology, incidence, quality measures and survival outcomes.

    Graduates are eligible to take the national certification exam with the National Cancer Registrars Association (NCRA) .

  • Career Opportunities
  • Individuals with the CTR credential will qualify for employment in:

    • Hospital cancer programs
    • Cancer treatment centers
    • Oncology physician group practices
    • Military and Veterans Administration hospitals
    • State and federal cancer registries
    • Companies providing cancer registry software
    • Contract cancer registry service providers
    • Pharmaceutical companies

    Southwest Tech's Career Connections Center offers Services to assist students looking for job placement.

  • Transfers
  • Prior Learning
  • Credit for Prior Learning

    Experience Pays! You've Been There... You've Done That... Let's See If You Can Get Credit For It!

    Credit for prior learning gives you opportunities to earn credit for college-level knowledge that you have already acquired. This may be the result of work or volunteer experiences, certifications, apprenticeships, military training, extensive self-instruction, or professional development. Credit for Prior Learning affords you the opportunity to accelerate the completion of your educational goals.

    For more information on Credit for Prior Learning see our Credit for Prior Learning page.

    At any time, you may Request Credit for Prior Learning.

    Cancer Information Management Courses that may have Credit for Prior Learning options:

    Course # Course Title
    Challenge Exam
    Challenge Exam
    10-501-101Medical TerminologyYes
    Available online
    10-501-107Digital Literacy for HealthcareYes
    10-530-117Cancer Registry Management PracticumYes
    Requires CTR Credential and approval of instructor
    10-530-118CTR PrepYes
    CTR Credentials
    10-530-161Health Quality ManagementYes
    10-530-162Foundations of HIMYes
    10-530-164Intro to Health InformaticsYes
    10-530-178Healthcare Law & EthicsYes
    10-801-195Written CommunicationYes
    College Composition CLEP test would also be accepted for credit. However, the challenge exam is the preferred method.
    10-801-196Oral/Interpersonal CommunicationYes
    10-809-172Introduction to Diversity StudiesYes
    10-809-198Intro to PsychologyYes
    CLEP Test - Introduction to Psychology