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Improving the quality of processing gastric cancer specimens: the pathologist’s perspective


Background and Objectives — Research into surgeon and pathologist knowledge of guidelines for lymph node (LN) assessment in gastric cancer demonstrated a knowledge deficit. To understand factors affecting optimal assessment we surveyed pathologists to identify external barriers.

Methods — Pathologists were identified using two Ontario physician databases and surveyed online or by mail, with a 40% response rate.

Results — The majority (56%) of pathologists stated assessing an additional five LNs would not be a burden. Most (80%) pathologists disagreed with pay for performance for achieving quality standards. Qualitative analysis determined the majority of pathologists believed achieving quality standards was inherent to their profession and should not require incentives. Poor surgical specimen was identified as a barrier and underscores the importance of aiming quality improvement initiatives at the multidisciplinary team.

Conclusion — In addition to education, tailoring an intervention to address all barriers, including laboratory constraints may be an effective means of improving gastric cancer care.



Mahar AL, Qureshi AP, Ottensmeyer CA, Chetty R, Pollett A, Coburn NG, Wright FC. J Surg Oncol. 2010; 101(3):195-9.

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