Nordic Cancer Registries - an overview of their procedures and data comparability

Acta Oncol. 2018 Apr;57(4):440-455. doi: 10.1080/0284186X.2017.1407039. Epub 2017 Dec 11.


Background: The Nordic Cancer Registries are among the oldest population-based registries in the world, with more than 60 years of complete coverage of what is now a combined population of 26 million. However, despite being the source of a substantial number of studies, there is no published paper comparing the different registries. Therefore, we did a systematic review to identify similarities and dissimilarities of the Nordic Cancer Registries, which could possibly explain some of the differences in cancer incidence rates across these countries.

Methods: We describe and compare here the core characteristics of each of the Nordic Cancer Registries: (i) data sources; (ii) registered disease entities and deviations from IARC multiple cancer coding rules; (iii) variables and related coding systems. Major changes over time are described and discussed.

Results: All Nordic Cancer Registries represent a high quality standard in terms of completeness and accuracy of the registered data.

Conclusions: Even though the information in the Nordic Cancer Registries in general can be considered more similar than any other collection of data from five different countries, there are numerous differences in registration routines, classification systems and inclusion of some tumors. These differences are important to be aware of when comparing time trends in the Nordic countries.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Registries / standards*
  • Scandinavian and Nordic Countries