Cancer registries have fundamental roles in cancer surveillance, research, and health services planning, monitoring and evaluation. Many are now assuming a broader role by contributing data for health-service management, alongside data inputs from other registries and administrative data sets. These data are being integrated into de-identified databases using privacy-protecting data linkage practices. Structured pathology reporting is increasing registry access to staging and other prognostic descriptors. Registry directions need to vary, depending on local need, barriers and opportunities. Flexibility and adaptability will be essential to optimize registry contributions to cancer control.