The Journey of National Cancer Registry in Pakistan
The cancer registry is of vital importance in cancer prevention and control. In Pakistan, cancer registry started in 1960 by Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP) where only pathology based data was collected. Later in 1973-74, National Cancer Registry was started by the Pakistan Medical Research Council (PMRC) by collecting data from seven hospitals/laboratories. It was a project based. The registry was re-initiated second time in 1977-80 from 06 hospitals/laboratories and third time in 1992. The data was coded, analyzed and published. The National Cancer Registry could not be continued on regular basis as it was started with the project and data collection stopped as the duration of the project completed. Dr. Bhurgri reported the data cancer registry from Karachi in 1999 (Karachi Cancer Registry).1
There are several other notable registries developed at regional/local/institution level in the country. Punjab Cancer Registry by Shaukat Khanum memorial hospital,2 Karachi Cancer Registry,3 Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) Cancer Registry,4 Shifa international hospital registry, Multan Cancer Registry and others.
The Pakistan Medical Research Council has established National Cancer Registry again on project basis in 2014-15,5 collected data on cancer from major stakeholders and published a report. The Ministry of National Health Services Regulations and Coordination (NHSR&C) nominated PMRC/PHRC as the focal point for Cancer Registry in Pakistan. A National Steering committee was notified on in 2020 with members from all major cancer registries/cancer data centers. The responsibility of the committee is to devise uniform mechanism for data collection/software, building collaboration networks, formulation of guidelines, strategic framework and policies for prevention and control of cancer. The Health Research Institute-NIH (Ex-PHRC/PMRC) along with the steering committee collected data from all the major registries, analyzed and findings/trends were published recently in June 2023.6
The challenges remain the uniform data collection, completeness and consistency. There is a need for allocation of funds by the Government of Pakistan to make it a regular activity. Capacity building of the staff involved in the cancer registry on International standards is required. International Donors should also understand the importance of Cancer Registry and financially supports the activities of the Registry.