An innovative study to collect comprehensive cancer data is underway in the Barwon South Western region of Victoria. The Evaluation of Cancer Outcomes (ECO) Trial involves the collection of a nationally developed and agreed set of clinical cancer data items across the region. Cancer is the leading cause of death in Australia and cancer surveillance relies heavily on accurate incidence and mortality data collection. The Victorian Government and Victorian Department of Human Services recently identified a lack of useful data surrounding patients diagnosed with cancer, their treatment, clinical course and outcomes. This article discusses the need for an improved and extended cancer data collection model and highlights the importance of timely population data on processes and outcomes of cancer.