Overview of the SEER Program

The Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) is an authoritative source of information on cancer incidence and survival in the United States. SEER currently collects and publishes cancer incidence and survival data from population-based cancer registries covering approximately 28 percent of the US population. For more information on this, please view the SEER Research Data. SEER coverage includes 26 percent of African Americans, 38 percent of Hispanics, 44 percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives, 50 percent of Asians, and 67 percent of Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders. (Details are provided in the table: Number of Persons by Race and Hispanic Ethnicity for SEER Participants.)

The SEER Program registries routinely collect data on patient demographics, primary tumor site, tumor morphology and stage at diagnosis, first course of treatment, and follow-up for vital status. The SEER Program is the only comprehensive source of population-based information in the United States that includes stage of cancer at the time of diagnosis and patient survival data. The mortality data reported by SEER are provided by the National Center for Health StatisticsExternal Web Site Policy. The population data used in calculating cancer rates is obtained periodically from the Census BureauExternal Web Site Policy. Updated annually and provided as a public service in print and electronic formats, SEER data are used by thousands of researchers, clinicians, public health officials, legislators, policymakers, community groups, and the public.

NCI staff work with the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR)External Web Site Policy to guide all state registries 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. Use of surveillance data for research is being improved through Web-based access to the data and analytic tools, and linking with other national data sources. For example, a Web-based tool for public health officials and policy makers, State Cancer ProfilesExternal Web Site Policy, provides a user-friendly interface for finding cancer statistics for specific states and counties. This Web site is a joint project between NCI and CDC and is part of the Cancer Control PLANETExternal Web Site Policy Web site which provides links to comprehensive cancer control resources for public health professionals. SEER staff also work with a number of collaborating organizations that are involved in cancer surveillance and related disciplines.

Read Goals of the SEER Program for more information about SEER's activites.