More than 46 million Americans live in rural areas, but rural populations remain relatively understudied in cancer disparities research. However, several analyses of multistate cancer registry data that describe the rural cancer incidence burden have been recently published. In light of this, our article aims to characterize the utility and generalizability of multistate, population- based cancer registry datasets for rural cancer surveillance research. First, we describe the accessibility, geographic coverage, available variables, and strengths and weaknesses of five data sources. Second, we evaluate two of these data sources-the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR) public use dataset (93% population coverage) and the Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) 18 dataset (28% population coverage)-on their characterization of rural-urban cancer incidence rates and sociodemographic representation. The five data sources varied in geographic coverage and extent of available variables. SEER 180s cancer rates sociodemographic representation differed from the more geographically representative NAACCR data. We suggest that SEER increase its geographic coverage to improve their generalizability and to take advantage of their utility to assess disparities along the cancer control continuum. We also suggest that non-SEER data sources be utilized more frequently to capitalize on their extensive geographic coverage.