The Rapid Case Ascertainment Core at UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center provides support to the N.C. Central Cancer Registry and local hospitals for rapid case ascertainment and facilitates cancer prevention and control research that requires early contact with patients. Dr. Andrew Olshan is the Faculty Director, and Heather Tipaldos is the Facility Director.

Facility Director

Heather Tipaldos

Location & Hours

Most activities of the Rapid Case Ascertainment staff are based at the N.C. Central Cancer Registry in Raleigh, N.C.

8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.


The Core does not charge for its services. Users pay a per-case ascertainment fee ($15) directly to hospitals for pathology reports, as well as monetary support for RCA staff.


Rapid Case Ascertainment (RCA) is an acceleration of the North Carolina Central Cancer Registry’s (CCR) reporting process for quick identification of cancer patients throughout the state. Pathology reports are sent from hospitals/facilities within 1 month of diagnosis. The CCR and its ability to provide a RCA system has made N.C. a national leader in population-based cancer research. Without RCA, such research involving timely patient contact is not possible and peer reviewers and agencies may not fund.


  • Provide support to the CCR and local hospitals for rapid case ascertainment
  • Facilitate cancer prevention and control research that requires early contact with patients
  • Identify potential cases prior to death or significant morbidity
  • Allow timely interviewing and biologic specimen collection
  • Allow researchers to contact patients who live across the state

The Research Process

  • Researchers contact RCA and the CCR to discuss their upcoming proposal or grant.
  • Individual projects receive IRB approval from their institution(s), and then approval from the CCR.
  • Registrars provide pathology reports, demographics and physician contact information of potentially eligible patients to RCA within 1 month of diagnosis.
  • RCA enters eligible patients’ data in an ACCESS database.
  • RCA mails a brochure outlining the CCR’s role and notification of possible contact by researchers to eligible patients.
  • Data are delivered to the research project. Individual projects will then:
    1. notify physician of intent to contact eligible patient;
    2. mail invitation letter explaining study to eligible patient;
    3. obtain consent;
    4. and continue with their protocol administering in-home / telephone interviews, collecting specimens, etc.


Andrew Olshan, PhD, and Heather J. Tipaldos, MS, CRA


Dr. Andrew Olshan, Faculty Director
Heather Tipaldos, Facility Director
Chandrika Rao, Director, CCR

JoElla Marting, BSN, RN, MIS, CTR, RCA coordinator, 919-792-5925 (phone), 919-792-5927 (fax),

Indumati Tirupatur, Data Assistant, 919-792-5924 (phone), 919-792-5927 (fax),