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U.S. National Institutes of Health National Cancer Institute

SEER 2001 Expansion

On February 13, 2001, the director of the National Cancer Institute announced SEER's expansion with awards to four additional states: Louisiana, Kentucky, New Jersey, and California (the remaining portions of the state not already under SEER coverage). The contracts were awarded through competitive selection and peer review, with emphasis on:

  1. coverage of populations for which limited data existed, and
  2. data quality that meets SEER standards and reporting requirements.

Inclusion of the four new geographic areas increases SEER coverage to 23 percent of African Americans, 40 percent of Hispanics, 42 percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives, 53 percent of Asians, and 70 percent of Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders. Overall, when including the four new areas, SEER coverage increases from 14 percent to 26 percent of the US population, from about 39 million to near 74 million. (Details are provided in the table: Number of Persons by Race and Hispanic Ethnicity for SEER Participants.)

NCI has recognized the need to better explain the cancer burden in racial/ethnic minorities and medically underserved populations and is concerned with research on the full diversity of the US population. In previous expansions since 1973, SEER increased the proportions of Hispanics, urban African Americans and Asian and Pacific Islanders in Southern California and the Greater Bay Area, rural African Americans in Georgia, northwestern populations in Seattle, Arizona Indians, and Alaska Natives. One of the recommendations of both the Surveillance Implementation Group and the NCI Cancer Control Review Group was to further expand coverage to capture additional key populations, such as rural low-income whites, more diverse American Indian populations, rural African Americans, and other Hispanic groups. The addition of the four new SEER areas -- the largest expansion to date -- accomplishes this objective.

NCI funds are coupled with funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) through the National Program of Cancer Registries (NPCR) as well as funding from the states. NCI's cost for the expansion is nearly $4 million for the first year, totaling almost $10 million for the first 29.5 months. A recent Memorandum of Understanding has secured cooperation in cancer surveillance between the NCI and CDC, with special emphasis on the registries of SEER and NPCR. Beyond the expansion of SEER, NCI staff are working with the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries to provide guidance for all state registries in order to achieve data content and compatibility acceptable for pooling data and improving national estimates. The SEER team is developing computer applications to unify cancer registration systems and to analyze and disseminate population-based data. Access to surveillance information also is being improved through expansion of web-based training, dissemination of analytic tools, and linkage to other national data sources.