The Cancer Registry of Norway 60 years - Prehistory
These days, 60 years ago, the first cancer reports came in for registration in the Cancer Registry. However, the establishment of the Cancer Registry of Norway was the end point of a long process that had been going on for almost 80 years. The first systematic studies of cancer incidence in Norway were published as early as the 1870s, and systematic registration of cancer cases took place under the auspices of the Norwegian Committee for Cancer Research for almost 20 years from 1907.
The Cancer Registry of Norway is one of the oldest and most complete registries of its kind in the world. However, the history leading up to its establishment shows that Norwegian researchers' interest in cancer is far older.
As early as 1870, doctor Frans Casper published Kiær Oversigt over Udbredningen af de kræftende Diseaseme i Norge in Norsk Magazin for Lægevidenskaben. In 1902, Kiær's work was followed by Magnus Geirsvold's Contribution to the Epidemiology of Cancer in Norway in the Report on the State of Health and Medical Conditions in Norway. Geirsvold relied on information to the Ministry of the Interior on cancer mortality.
Registration of cancer cases in Norway starts in 1907
Registration of cancer in Norway began in earnest when the 12th General Norwegian Medical Meeting in Kristiania in 1907 established the Norwegian Committee for Cancer Research. Kristian Brandt was elected chairman of the committee and Fredrik Georg Gade became secretary.
The committee's first purpose was to map the incidence of cancer in Norway and to investigate possible causes of cancer. In the same year, the first registration of cancer started in Norway and the work went on for almost 20 years, with "gradually decreasing interest". The report from the period 1908-1912 showed that the number of cancer cases was considerably smaller than the number of deaths with cancer as an underlying diagnosis.
Georg Fredrik Gade came to be the central figure in the mapping of cancer incidence in Norway up to World War 2. He published Investigations of Cancer Diseases in Norway in 1916 based on Den official mortalitysstatistik 1902 - 11 and the material collected by the committee in the period 1908 - 1912 . This contained 4 000 cases of primary cancer of the stomach.
Gade suggested in 1916 that cancer could also be caused by inheritance. This is because he found that the number of cancer cases among fathers, mothers and siblings was five times higher than cancer between spouses. He also found far less cancer among Sami than among Norwegians and Kvens.
Gade published a follow-up study The Cancer Diseases: Their Secretion, Prevalence and Fighting in 1929.
Establishment of the first cancer registries
After Gade's contribution, there was a long pause in cancer registration. In the late 1930s, there was a greater international involvement in the establishment of cancer registries, but unfortunately the Second World War influenced this process. However, the first cancer registries were established in the United States for Upstate New York in 1940 and in Connecticut in 1941, and in Europe Johannes Clemmensen founded the Danish Cancer Registry in 1942.
After 1945, there was increased focus on the cause and incidence of cancer in both Europe and the United States. This was partly due to the association that gradually became apparent between tobacco smoking and the increase in lung cancer in men and other examples of probable environmentally related cancer.
Establishment of the Cancer Registry of Norway
In 1948, the World Health Organization endorsed a proposal that five countries, including Norway, should investigate the frequency of cancer in the population, and the same year the National Association against Cancer proposed the establishment of a nationwide cancer registry.
In 1951, following cooperation with the Norwegian Directorate of Health, the Norwegian Radium Hospital and Statistics Norway, the Ministry of Social Affairs ordered the country's doctors to report all cases of cancer to the Cancer Registry of Norway from January 1952 onwards. Since January 1952, just under 1.5 million cases of cancer have been recorded in what has become one of the world's most complete registries of its kind in the world.