Population-based cancer registries (PBCRs) play a major role in cancer control, due to the continuous and systematic job they do collecting, analyzing and interpreting data on personal characteristics of cancer patients living in the Registry area, as well as clinical and anatomopathological information on tumors and patient monitoring to determine their survival rate.
The first efforts to know the extent of the cancer issue date back to early twentieth century in several European countries. In 1900, Germany conducted a survey of doctors in an attempt to register all cancer patients under medical treatment. The same approach was used again between 1902 and 1908 in different European countries, including Spain. In America, the first two registries were those set up in Saskatchewan (Canada) and Connecticut (USA) in 1932 and 1935. The first European cancer registry with national coverage, still functioning today, was created in Denmark in 1942.
In Spain, the two oldest PBCRs are the Zaragoza and Navarre Cancer Registries, created in 1960 and 1970. In 1976 it was launched the National Population-based Cancer Registration Plan and four more new registries - Asturias, Tenerife, Sevilla and Valladolid- were added to those already established, although not all of them have been active up to the present. Currently, there exist twelve Population-based Cancer Registries (Albacete, Asturias, Cuenca, Gerona, Granada, Canary Islands, Mallorca, Murcia, Navarra, Basque Country, Tarragona and Zaragoza), data from which are included in the key publication Cancer Incidence in Five Continents by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). There exist also a PBCR in the Rioja and two monographic registries, the Castellon Breast and Colorectal and Valencia Child Cancer registries. As a whole they cover a population of 10 million, which represents 27% of the Spanish population. This situation is similar in other Southern European countries such as France and Italy, akin to Spain geographical and culturally, where cancer registries cover approximately 20% of the total population and are usually located in areas with about one million inhabitants.