Cancer registry policies in the United States and geographic information systems applications in comprehensive cancer control

Document Type



GIS advantages; cancer control; policy development; cancer mapping

Identifier Data


Publication Source

Health Policy


Objectives Through a long history of cancer policies, public health has a foundation for cancer research and data to use in applying technological advancements for U.S. cancer control efforts. Geographic information systems (GIS) are one technology enabling the visualization of cancer risk patterns associated with incidence, mortality, and accessibility to care.

Methods U.S. Comprehensive Cancer Control (CCC) program directors were interviewed from 49 of 50 states to assess use and function of GIS tools for mapping data related to cancer control policies and practices. Interviews were coded to obtain frequencies of response associated with content domains mapped using GIS tools and the perceived relative advantages.

Results Significant relationships were found between the mapping of behavioral risk factors, health care services, transportation access, and policy advantages identified by program managers. The mapping of cancer incidence, mortality, and staging, transportation access, and multiple layers of content were found to have significant associations with perceived research advantages.

Conclusions U.S. CCC program managers recognize several important advantages relating to health policy and research for use of GIS tools in cancer control efforts. The application of GIS in U.S. cancer control efforts is employed unevenly, suggesting the need for innovative policies to support accessibility.

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