BC Cancer Registry data set


Data source: BC Cancer


Date range

January 1, 1985 onward (calendar year)


The BC Cancer Registry is a population-based dataset of all new reportable cancers diagnosed among BC residents. The Registry contains diagnosis information, as well as personal and demographic information. The Registry reportable scope follows that of the Canadian Cancer Registry: https://www23.statcan.gc.ca/imdb/p2SV.pl?Function=getSurvey&SDDS=3207. Data sources for cancer records include, but are not limited to, pathology reports, death certificates, hospitalization records, cancer treatment centres, among others.

The BC Cancer Registry is certified by the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR). As part of cancer registry certification criteria, NAACCR annually reviews data from member registries for quality, accuracy, and completeness of cancer incidence data. The BC Cancer Registry incidence data has received gold-status, the highest level of certification, since 2012. The Registry is estimated to cover at least 95% of all reportable cancer cases.


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  • All malignant cases, except for in-situ Bladder, with a BC postal code or province code are included from 1985 onward.
  • Benign cases are excluded
  • All cases from outside BC or outside Canada are excluded
Timeliness of data

A disease record is entered into our cancer information system approximately 15 months from the date the patient was diagnosed.  In order to put a diagnosis on our system we have to receive the information from outside provincial hospitals/pathology labs.  After a patient is referred to a cancer treatment centre (if they are referred) then ideally this more detailed disease and treatment information is entered into our system within 2 to 3 months from the date the patient was diagnosed (depending on how soon the patient was referred to be seen at BC Cancer).  Each diagnosis year must be 100% complete before we can produce our population statistics.

The BC Cancer Registry reports cancer incidence and mortality on an annual basis to the national Canadian Cancer Registry (CCR) (maintained by Statistics Canada). CCR puts out a call for data each year along with the data submission date that each provincial and territorial cancer registry are required to meet; this submission date varies year to year and is determined by factors internal to Statistics Canada. 

After we submit our data to the national registry, CCR reviews it and sends back reports of data requiring remediation; we make necessary changes to the data and re-submit it back to the CCR. CCR also conducts two annual internal linkages; i) national record linkage where each provincial and territorial cancer registry is required to return records for residents of other jurisdictions to the appropriate provincial and territorial cancer registry to resolve any duplication of cases and ii) national death clearance where the patient data is linked to the Canadian Vital Statistics Death Database and any conflicting/duplicate data is resolved with each provincial and territorial cancer registry.

It is at this time that we consider the diagnosis year complete and can proceed to run our statistics for publication and release the complete diagnosis year via data requests and data sharing agreements (e.g. PopData BC).

Example of how the submission cycle works:

  • Diagnosis Year 2018 will be submitted to CCR in 2020
  • Diagnosis Year 2019 will be submitted to CCR in 2021
  • Diagnosis Year 2020 will be submitted to CCR in 2022
Data changes over time
  • Over the years, coding for cancers in BC has changed based on revisions to the WHO International Classification of Diseases for Oncology (ICD-O). The Cancer Incidence data files held by Population Data BC include fields for ICD-O codes in versions originally entered in the database (ICD-O-1; ICD-O-2) and the current version (ICD-O-3):
    • ICD-O-1 was used prior to December 31, 1991
    • ICD-O-2 was used from January 1, 1992 until December 31, 2000
    • ICD-O-3 has been used since January 1, 2001 to code topography (site) and histology (morphology) of the tumour
Additional information

BC Cancer data within Population Data BC holdings does not contain information such as cancer treatment and medications. Researchers interested in this data should contact BC Cancer directly to discuss this request.



DARs/Projects snapshot

Total number of DARs/Projects currently with PopData:


Last revised May 10th, 2024

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