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Ever told had cancer

Codes and Frequencies

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CANCEREV identifies sample adults/persons who were ever diagnosed by a doctor or other health professional as having cancer. The Field Representative's Manuals for 1997-2000 directed the interviewer, "Do NOT include self-diagnosed conditions or conditions reported by a person who is not a doctor and not working with or for a doctor."

The Manual for 2005 defined cancer as "diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control. Cancer cells can invade nearby tissue and can spread through the bloodstream and lymphatic system to other parts of the body." This definition, which was not routinely shared with respondents, was taken from the Healthy People 2010 Objectives, a comprehensive set of national health goals for the decade, which are coordinated by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Available in 2007, CANCERYR identifies sample children who were diagnosed by a doctor or other health professional as having cancer during the past 12 months.


Along with universe changes, the question wording for CANCEREV in 1987 and 1992 differed from the question wording for 1997 forward. In 1987 and 1992, the question read, "Has a medical doctor ever told you that you had cancer of any kind (including any cancer you have already mentioned)?" In 1997 forward, the question was, "Have you ever been told by a doctor or other health professional that you had cancer or a malignancy of any kind?" CANCEREV is largely comparable from 1997 forward.

The NHIS questionnaire was substantially redesigned in 2019 to introduce a different data collection structure and new content. For more information on changes in terminology, universes, and data collection methods beginning in 2019, please see the user note.


  • 1983; 1987; 1988: Sample persons age 18+ .
  • 1984: Sample persons age 55+
  • 1992: Sample persons age 18+ in quarters 1 and 2 and in 2 weeks of quarter 3.
  • 1997-2018: Sample adults age 18+.
  • 2019-2022: Sample adults age 18+.


  • 1983-1984, 1987-1988, 1992, 1997-2022