The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has awarded two grants totaling more than $1.25 million to the College of American Pathologists (CAP). The funding will be used to improve the adoption of evidence-based laboratory testing guidelines and to standardize reporting of biomarker test results to cancer registries. The grant dollars will be used over a 5-year period.
“Patients and physicians rely on accurate and consistent test results to guide treatment decisions,” said Charles Roussel, CEO for the College of American Pathologists. “Our goal is to help improve patient care through the delivery of standardized laboratory testing and reporting. The CDC funding will enable us to achieve this goal on behalf of patients, pathologists, and laboratory and healthcare professionals nationwide.”
Guidelines Improve Patient Care
CAP develops evidence-based guidelines and consensus recommendations to standardize laboratory practices among the nation’s medical laboratories. To date, the college has released six evidence-based guidelines, including those related to biomarker testing for breast and lung cancer, as well as validation of immunohistochemical assays and whole slide imaging.
“By implementing guidelines into clinical practice, hospitals and patients can be assured that the laboratory is following consistent procedures based on scientific evidence and expert consensus opinion,” said Raouf Nakhleh, MD, a pathologist at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., and lead on CAP’s CDC project to improve the impact of laboratory practice guidelines. “With the CDC grant, we hope to increase awareness for and adoption of the published guidelines, as well as guidelines in development.”
Streamlined Cancer Biomarker Reporting
Through the CDC grant, CAP and other healthcare organizations are developing a standardized approach to streamline how cancer biomarker data is collected and recorded. Collection of this data enables public health professionals to better understand cancer trends and identify needs across the nation.
“Tumor biomarkers are used to help detect, diagnose, and determine optimal treatment strategies for many types of cancer,” said Patrick L. Fitzgibbons, MD, a pathologist at St. Jude Medical Center, Fullerton, Calif, and a CAP member who is involved in CAP’s CDC project on cancer biomarker data reporting. “The CDC grant will enable us to develop and maintain standards and best practices for reporting cancer biomarker test results to cancer registries. Our long-term goal is to standardize the reporting of cancer biomarker data and eliminate the need for manual abstraction of biomarker data, reducing errors and costs and, ultimately, improving patient care.”
Role of the Pathologist
Sometimes called the “doctor’s doctor,” pathologists are physicians who use laboratory medicine to examine cells, tissues, and body fluids to identify and diagnose disease. They work with other physicians on the patient care team to guide treatment for medical conditions, from diabetes to cancer. As the physicians supervising the core laboratory processes and clinical information exchange central to hospitals and healthcare systems, pathologists are leaders in healthcare informatics, dedicated to improving communication of clinical data to healthcare providers and patients.
CAP is the world’s largest organization of board-certified pathologists, with more than 18,000 members. The college serves patients, pathologists, and the public by fostering and advocating excellence in the practice of pathology and laboratory medicine worldwide. CAP’s laboratory improvement programs, initiated 65 years ago, currently has customers in more than 100 countries, accrediting 7,600 laboratories and providing proficiency testing to 20,000 laboratories worldwide. For more information, visit CAP.