The national cancer registry's first steps...Originally (in 1950) the registry relied exclusively on information requested by the health insurance funds from the treating physician. Registration took place on a voluntary basis. There was no national cancer registry at the time. It was only in 1983 that the National Cancer Registry (NKR) was founded and managed by the 'Belgisch Werk tegen Kanker' (Belgian Work Against Cancer). An assessment of the information revealed serious under-registration.
Towards a registration network in Flanders
At the end of the Eighties, various initiatives related to cancer registration emerged in Flanders in addition to the NKR. These separate registration systems did not offer an accurate picture of the disease in Flanders either. As of 1994 up to and including the operational year 2005, the Government of Flanders subsidised the development of a cancer registration network in Flanders. Its coordination was entrusted to the 'Vlaamse Liga tegen Kanker' (Flemish League against Cancer).
Bundling resources and forces in a Flemish cancer registration network resulted in international recognition. In 2001, Flemish data were included for the first time in the authoritative publication 'Cancer Incidence in Five Continents' of the International Association of Cancer Registries (IACR).
Compulsory participation in the cancer registry
Reimbursement of the multidisciplinary oncology consultation (MOC) and oncological care programmes was introduced in 2003. Besides compulsory participation in the Cancer Registry, the use of a standard registration form was also introduced in hospitals.
Flanders, Brussels and Wallonia join forces
The Belgian Cancer Registry was founded on 28 June 2005 in order to guarantee the continuity of cancer registration in Belgium. This was followed on 17 May 2006 by its official inauguration attended by Rudy Demotte, former Federal Minister of Social Affairs and Public Health, Catherine Fonck, former Minister of Health, Children and Youth Welfare of the French Community and a representative of the former Flemish Minister of Welfare, Public Health and Family, Inge Vervotte. This new, independent structure bundles the various initiatives in Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels and is mainly based on the former Flemish Cancer Registration Network. It involves a major step forward in cancer registration in Belgium. Since its foundation, the Belgian Cancer Registry has continued to work on developing a cancer registration network for Belgium. By bundling resources and forces in a national network the Belgian Cancer Registry aims to provide a qualitative and quantitative added value in cancer registration, not only at a national but also an international level.
A legal basis for cancer registration
The act containing various health-related provisions was ratified on 13 December 2006. Article 39 of this act provides a detailed description of the organisation of cancer registration in Belgium.