Background: There is recognition that to improve the management of patients with cancer we need to monitor outcomes, especially survival outcomes based on tumour stage. Unfortunately, there are few centres in Australia that can provide stage stratified survival information, despite the large investments that have been made in data collection. The aim of this study was to collect staging information for all colorectal cancers diagnosed in Western Australia over a 12-month period. This information could then serve as a basis for more meaningful analysis.Methods: A project officer was appointed to coordinate a programme through the Western Australian Cancer Registry. A consensus was reached among pathologists on the standardized reporting of colorectal cancers to the registry. Clinicians were asked to provide, on pathology request forms, information on tumour location, the presence of metastatic disease (on X-ray or at laparotomy), and type of surgery. Use was also made of existing hospital and unit based databases to acquire and crosscheck information.Results: Over a 12-month study period, 1008 patients with colorectal cancers were notified to the Cancer Registry. Their mean age was 69.1 years (range 23-100 years), 56% were men and 44% women. The rectum was the most common site for disease location (32.5%). At cessation of the project, 743 patients (74%) were fully staged, with a further 221 patients (22%) having completed data on tumour depth of penetration and nodal status, but insufficient information on the presence of metastases. The stage distributions were: stage I - 20.5%; stage II - 29.9%; stage III - 26.2%; stage IV - 23.4%.Conclusions: It is feasible to collect staging information on colorectal cancers notified to a population based cancer registry. This information will be invaluable for stage stratified survival analysis and research.