Comprehensive Cancer Control Plan for Michigan, 2009-2015 Maintenance Projects: Basic Lexicon
Goal: Ensure that the basic pathology lexicons for breast, prostate, colorectal, cervix, and lung cancers and progress in adoption of these templates are maintained and sustained.
Background: While evidence exists that screening and early detection can reduce mortality from breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer, it is a fact that mortality from these cancers can be reduced only if early detection is followed by appropriate treatment.
Although treatment alternatives may be available, the decision about which alternative would be most appropriate for an individual depends upon many factors, including the particular characteristics of the cancerous lesion itself.
In fact, cancer treatment services are provided by a team of providers, all of whom must accurately communicate key data to one another so all members of the team have the information they need to evaluate the situation, determine the most effective treatment regimen, and establish a realistic prognosis for the patient.
Pathologists, radiologists and surgeons often use a wide variety of narrative descriptions to outline a patient’s diagnosis and potential course of cancer treatment. A lack of consistency in these descriptions can create confusion in the minds of other care providers who review such descriptions to develop an oncology management course for the individual patient.
For instance, oncologists use two basic sets of information to make decisions about which treatment to select as the most effective for an individual patient:
an analysis of the report about the characteristics of the cancer lesion from the pathologist who examined the anatomical specimen to make the diagnosis; and
information contained in the operative report from the surgeon who performed the initial biopsy or excision.
Inconsistencies in the way these findings are reported may result in an oncologist selecting less-than-optimal treatment options, as well as communicating misleading information to the patients and their families.