Registries have key roles in cancer incidence, mortality and survival monitoring and in showing disparities across the population. Incidence monitoring began in New South Wales in 1972 and other jurisdictions soon followed. Registry data are used to evaluate outcomes of preventive, screening, treatment and support services. They have shown decreases in cancer incidence following interventions and have been used for workforce and other infrastructure planning. Crude markers of optimal radiotherapy and chemotherapy exist and registry data are used to show shortfalls against these markers. The data are also used to investigate cancer clusters and environmental concerns. Survival data are used to assess service performance and interval cancer data are used in screening accreditation. Registries enable determination of risk of multiple primary cancers. Clinical quality registries are used for clinical quality improvement. Population-based cancer registries and linked administrative data complement clinical registries by providing high-level system-wide data. The USA Commission on Cancer has long used registries for quality assurance and service accreditation. Increasingly population-based registry data in Australia are linked with administrative data on service delivery to assess system performance. Addition of tumour stage and other prognostic indicators is important for these analyses and is facilitated by the roll-out of structured pathology reporting. Data linkage with administrative data, following checks on the quality of these data, enables assessment of patterns of care and other performance indicators for health-system monitoring. Australian cancer registries have evolved and increasingly are contributing to broader information networks for health system management.