NAACCR Narrative
Fall 2012
IN THIS ISSUE
Free Geocoding Now Available for NAACCR Full Member Registries
Cancer System Performance Measurement and Reporting in Canada
Tyrol Cancer Registry Complies with NAACCR Gold Certification
ICD-10-CM Update
Message from the President
Message from the Executive Director
Collaborating to Improve Follow-up: The Louisiana Tumor Registry's Data Exchange
Highlights from the Program Manager of Standards
The CONCORD-2 Study: Global Surveillance of Cancer Survival
Working with NAACCR v12 Files
NAACCR 2013 Annual Conference "Thinking Big: The Future of Cancer Surveillance"
Working Together to Make Every Cancer Count!
NAACCR 2012-2013 Education and Training Calendar
NAACCR Education and Training Program Update
Committee Corner
Encouraging All Students to "Think Big"
State/Provincial Cancer Registries from A-Z
NAACCR 'Out and About'
NAACCR Walkers - 'Walk' with Us!
Spotlight on One of our Own - Valuable Lessons Learned from Carol Johnson
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NAACCR Process Improvement Program
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NAACCR 2012-2013 Cancer Registry & Surveillance Webinar Series
A subscription to the NAACCR webinar series gives you access to 12, 9 or 6 live webinars carefully designed to meet your training needs. Webinar topics include site-specific coding and abstracting as well as cancer registry operations. A different webinar will be presented each month beginning in October of 2012 and continuing through September of 2013. An application for continuing education hours has been submitted to NCRA. Click here for more information and a link to subscribe.
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Free Geocoding Now Available for NAACCR Full Member Registries

The North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR) is pleased to announce the successful launch of the Automated Geospatial Geocoding Interface Environment (AGGIE) System within the MyNAACCR section of the NAACCR Website. This release represents the culmination of a multi-year initiative undertaken through a partnership between NAACCR, Texas A&M University, and the National Cancer Institute to provide a single, uniform geocoding platform for open use by cancer registries. The AGGIE System is now available and ready for use by all NAACCR Full Member Registries. This system is also currently integrated within the SEER*DMS registry software package – users of SEER*DMS have already begun using it!

The AGGIE system performs automated geocoding of registry data records. For those thinking, “geo-what?” geocoding is the process of converting postal addresses into latitude and longitude geographic coordinates that can be mapped. Geocoding is critical to the mission of NAACCR, cancer registries, and cancer researchers who seek to understand how geography plays a role in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of cancer. This process is also important for numerous other applications including studies looking at the effectiveness of intervention strategies, characterizing levels of health service available, identifying underserved communities, and running simulations to identify where health resources should be placed to optimize accessibility. Within the cancer registry community, geocoding is the process which generates the latitude and longitude values for the diagnosis and treatment addresses associated with records, as well as the Census tract information from which many other attributes can be derived.

The AGGIE System has been released to the NAACCR community with several goals in mind. In line with the fundamental mission of NAACCR, the first and foremost reason this project was undertaken was to standardize the means by which geocoding is performed across cancer registries in the United States and Canada. Before the release of the AGGIE System, individual registries across the U.S. and Canada performed geocoding in unique ways that fit the needs and resources of each particular registry. This situation historically resulted in geocoded data produced by different means using different algorithms and different reference data layers across registries, potentially creating a scenario where data could not be compared or aggregated on an equal footing. It is the hope of the project team that the release of a standardized, open access geocoding system for free use by cancer registries will begin to bring standardization to important data items used for many aspects of cancer surveillance, control, and prevention.

A second benefit that the AGGIE System brings to the cancer registry community is a lowered cost for producing a required data item. In particular, recent surveys by the NAACCR GIS Committee have shown that the cost of geocoding at registries can represent a significant investment in terms of time, dollars, training, and/or employees requiring specialized skills. To address this issue, the AGGIE System is offered to the cancer registry community at no cost. All NAACCR Full Member Registries may utilize the AGGIE System for free, whenever needed. The availability of a free and secure geocoding system should serve to lower the data processing cost of NAACCR Full Member Registries who currently support the cost of geocoding (time, effort, and/or training) from their own budgets. NAACCR Full Member Registries must simply sign into their MyNAACCR account, securely upload a data file to the NAACCR servers, and begin to process the file. The processing will take place within the secure data center which houses the NAACCR servers. Complete documentation of the process along with data security and confidentiality agreements are in place to provide assurances of data confidentiality and security.

The third goal of the AGGIE System is to provide geocoded results to cancer registries and researchers that are of the highest possible quality. To this end, the reference data that underlie the AGGIE System are the most sophisticated and accurate files available anywhere, capable of producing geocoded data down to the house level for the majority of the U.S. and Canada. These reference data files have been obtained through partnerships with leading geographic data companies which include Boundary Solutions, Inc. and NAVTEQ (owned by Nokia), as well as from publicly available sources such as the U.S. Census Bureau. Together, the data layers represent the best possible sources of data that any geocoding system (and user!) could hope for, resulting in geocoded output data that is both highly complete and highly accurate.

Along these same lines, the geocoding engine which underlies the AGGIE System represents nearly a decade of research and development into advanced geocoding algorithms. This system, developed by Texas A&M University researchers, is in use by more than 10,000 users including federal agencies, local governments, individual researchers, and for- and non-profit organizations of all stripes. The AGGIE System has been thoroughly tested and its internal workings have been published in numerous peer-reviewed scientific articles in leading journals in Geography and Geographic Information Science. This geocoding engine has been utilized in dozens of scientific studies, notably playing a major role in the execution of the NAACCR, University of Southern California, Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation project. This system is undergoing continual enhancement as geocoding research advances are made to improve the accuracy of geocode output data. These enhancements will be integrated into the AGGIE System available to the NAACCR community as soon as they are rigorously tested and evaluated, shortening the pipeline between the academic research bench and the ultimate benefit that these enhancements bring to cancer registries and researchers who seek to use these data to lessen the burden of cancer in the U.S. and Canada.

The AGGIE System is supported by NAACCR and Texas A&M University. Thanks to the National Cancer Institute for funding this project.   Users can submit questions, comments, concerns, recommendations, and wishes directly through the AGGIE System website where the geocoding system is hosted. A secure issue-tracking system is being created so that individual records can be submitted for investigation when the system does not perform properly.

In sum, geocoding just got a whole lot cheaper and readily available for cancer registries. The data generated through the AGGIE System will be consistent across North America, and will be of the highest quality available in any commercial, non-commercial, or open source geocoding system. It is understood that many NAACCR registries already have geocoding arrangements in place, so we do not anticipate that this solution will be an immediate fit for all. However, we encourage all NAACCR Full Member Registries to begin using the system as soon as time and scheduling permit. The AGGIE System is free, highly available, and ready to be used by any and all NAACCR Full Member Registries who need to perform geocoding tasks, large and small.

Simply sign into your MyNAACCR account on the NAACCR website (http://www.naaccr.org) and click on the Geocoder link to get started.

This program has been funded in part with Federal funds from the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, under Contract Number HHSN261200900015C/ADB No.: N02PC-2009-0001-5.

Dr. Daniel W. Goldberg
Department of Geography, Texas A&M University
GIS Committee Co-Chair

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Fall 2012
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