Artificial Intelligence and Natural Language Processing in the Cancer Registry Field

Recorded On: 01/29/2024

Next-Gen Cancer Registry: Using AI to Automate Cancer Registry Operations 

Dr. Jonathan Simkin, Scientific Director BC Cancer Registry

Dr. Lovedeep Gondara, Research Scientist, Provincial Health Services Authority

This talk examines the practical implications of artificial intelligence (AI) on cancer registries, focusing on the BC Cancer Registry. Beginning with an analysis of early rule-based approaches in Natural Language Processing (NLP) for cancer coding, we assess both the advantages and limitations of this methodology in the real-world setting. The presentation then explores the impact of these tools on cancer coding and operational efficiency in registries. This talk also demonstrates the BC Cancer Registry's NLP pipelines, presenting their performance metrics across diverse tasks, including case finding from pathology reports and autocoding capabilities that streamline the extraction of critical registry data fields. Finally, this talk will provide insights into how AI-driven automation expedites data processing and strategically addresses resource challenges, offering a pragmatic solution for cancer registry operations. 

Practical Applications of Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning to Improve Efficiencies and Enhance Central Cancer Registries 

Dr. Eric Durbin, Director, Kentucky Cancer Registry

This presentation will cover several examples of efforts in natural language processing and machine learning that are designed to improve efficiencies in registry operations and enhance registry data with content automatically derived from clinical and other documents. 

ChatGPT, Where Would I Start? 

Dr. Francis Boscoe, Pumphandle, LLC

This talk is an introduction to ChatGPT and similar generative AI tools. It will cover the basics of what these tools are, how we might use them, and some of the limitations.

Jonathan Simkin, PhD, MPH

Scientific Director

British Columbia Cancer Registry, BC Cancer, Provincial Health Services Authority

Dr. Jonathan Simkin, PhD MPH, Scientific Director of the BC Cancer Registry and Co-Chair of the Canadian Council of Cancer Registries, holds a PhD and MPH from the University of British Columbia. His research expertise spans geospatial methods in cancer surveillance, population oncology research, and the application of deep learning methods in cancer surveillance. Dr. Simkin has a ten-year tenure in cancer registry and surveillance settings, including roles as a Cancer Epidemiologist at the Yukon Government and more recently as the Scientific Director of the British BC Cancer Registry at BC Cancer, which he has led since 2019. Dr. Simkin's leadership in implementing cutting-edge technology at the BC Cancer Registry is driving transformative change in cancer data management, ensuring improved efficiency, timeliness, and data quality to support cancer care and research. 

Lovedeep Gondara, PhD, MS

Reasearch Scientist

Provincial Health Services Authority

Dr. Gondara is a Research Scientist, with specialization in machine learning and biostatistics at the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA). His research focus encompasses several areas within machine learning and biostatistics, including natural language processing, multimodal learning, privacy-preserving machine learning, flexible survival regression models, Bayesian statistics, and their integration into the healthcare domain. In his previous role as a biostatistician, Dr. Gondara was responsible for the design and analysis of multiple clinical trials spanning multiple disease domains, such as breast cancer, brain and CNS tumors, cervical cancer screening, etc.

Eric B Durbin, DrPH, MS


Kentucky Cancer Registry

Eric B. Durbin, DrPH, MS, is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Biomedical Informatics at the University of Kentucky (UK) College of Medicine.  He serves as the Director of the Kentucky Cancer Registry (KCR) and the Director of the Cancer Research Informatics Shared Resource Facility at the UK Markey Cancer Center.  He has over 30 years of experience in population-based cancer surveillance and informatics support for basic, clinical and translational cancer research.  His research interests include precision cancer surveillance, pathology informatics, machine learning methods and cancer epidemiology.
Dr. Durbin’s current research is focused on the integration of multi–omics data to support decision-making in precision medicine and cancer prevention and control, informatics methods to support pediatric and young adult cancer patient surveillance and research and the development of machine learning methods to derive clinical biomarkers from narrative electronic pathology reports and digital slide images.

Francis P Boscoe, PhD



Frank Boscoe worked at the New York State Department of Health from 1999 to 2019, nearly all of that time with the New York State Cancer Registry, before starting his own consulting business in 2019.


AI and NLP in the Cancer Registry Field Webinar Recording
AI and NLP in the Cancer Registry Field Slides
Q&A Coming Soon!