Pancreatic Cancer Awareness

Patricia Hines, CTR Oncology Leave a Comment

Pancreatic cancer has received greater attention in recent years, with the death of Alec Trebek and United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg from the disease.    According to the National Cancer Institute, pancreatic cancer is "the third-leading cause of death from cancer in the United States" (behind lung and colorectal cancers). It has the highest...

Gastric & Stomach Cancer Awareness

Topacio Garrido, MS, CTR Oncology Leave a Comment

November is Gastric & Stomach Cancer Awareness month, and it is important to bring awareness to this type of cancer. My grandfather passed away in 2015 from this very type of cancer and I wish he was more informed about his symptoms. Looking back, I recalled him complaining about stomach pain and heartburn for a couple of years but never did it occur to him that it was...

Monitoring Compliance for CoC Standard 5.8 Pulmonary Resection

Michele Webb, CTR Oncology Leave a Comment

In 2020 the CoC announced new operative standards and quality measures for breast, melanoma, colon, rectum, and lung primary sites. Two of the standards went into effect on January 1, 2021, including Standard 5.7 Total Mesorectal Excision (Rectum) and Standard 5.8 Pulmonary Resection (Lung). Compliance with each standard is based on documentation in the pathology reports...

Knowing the Risk Factors May Just Save Your Life

Patricia Hines, CTR Oncology Leave a Comment

According to the American Cancer Society, “a risk factor is anything that increases your chances of getting a disease, such as breast cancer. But having a risk factor, or many, does not mean that you are sure to get cancer or another disease. “As with many things in life, some things we have control over, while others we don’t. Our best bet in reducing our risk for breast...

Cigarette Smoking and Cancer in the U.S.

Topacio Garrido, MS, CTR CDC Leave a Comment

Cigarette smoking in the United States has been prevalent since the early 1900s, with approximately 3.5 billion cigarettes being sold. In 1965, congress passed legislation to place the surgeon general warning on every box of cigarettes sold in the United States. Prior to this, many Americans were not well informed or educated about the effects of cigarette smoke or even...

Cancer Registrars and Data Curation

Michele Webb, CTR Oncology Leave a Comment

Technology has come a long way! With a single click, we can have items delivered to our doorstep, catch a ride to the airport, or stay connected with family or friends anywhere in the world. Many of these technological advances add convenience to our lives but let us consider how technology helps cancer registrars affect lives.   Cancer Registrars have traditionally...

Cancer and the Covid-19 Pandemic

Topacio Garrido, MS, CTR Oncology Leave a Comment

On January 20th, 2020, the first confirmed case of Covid-19 in the United States was reported. It was a time in history that led to fear, confusion, and many unanswered questions for millions of Americans. It presented a new fear for those who are immunocompromised or those who had family members with chronic diseases. It was a rough time around the world with millions of...

15 Minutes or Less Can Save Your Life

Patricia Hines, CTR Oncology Leave a Comment

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month Did you know that a “10 to 15” minute test can easily save your life? That is the amount of time an average screening mammogram takes according to the website, https://memorialhermann.org. In 1985, the “American Cancer Society and Imperial Chemical Industries” (now known as AstraZeneca) created “Breast Cancer Awareness Month” to...

September - Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

Patricia Hines, CTR Oncology Leave a Comment

Ovarian Cancer, often known as the “silent killer," or “whispering disease” among women according to Harvard.edu and NIH.gov, is considered the 5th leading cause of death in women, and the leading gynecological type of cancer death. The American Cancer Society estimates that "about 19,880 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the United States" in 2022, and close...

2022 Cancer Registrars’ Toolbox - Everything you Need to Abstract a 2022 Case in One Organized Toolbox

Patricia Hines, CTR Oncology Leave a Comment

Have you ever wished that everything you need to get your job done, could be found in one location? A handyman or woman depends daily on their toolbox to contain most of the necessary tools needed to complete a project. Without an organized toolbox, the task of trying to complete a project could take much longer when having to search over and over for everything one needs...

Coding Ki-67 for Breast Cancers

Michele Webb, CTR Oncology Leave a Comment

Ki-67 is a tumor marker that indicates cell proliferation or how quickly a cancer cell copies its DNA and divides into two (2) cells. The more rapidly the cells divide, the faster the cancer is growing or the more aggressive it is. Ki-67 testing was added to the AJCC 8th Edition Staging Manual and may be used for treatment planning purposes or to estimate treatment...

Targeted Cancer Prevention

Michele Webb, CTR Oncology Leave a Comment

The National Cancer Institute defines cancer prevention as “action taken to decrease the chance of getting a disease or condition.” They further define decreasing risk factors, such as smoking, obesity, and lack of exercise. They also define increasing protective factors, such as regular physical activity, vaccination, staying at a healthy weight, and having a healthy...

Solid Tumor Rules Changes for 2022 - Head and Neck

Patricia Hines, CTR Oncology Leave a Comment

Effective September 1, 2021, for all cases diagnosed January 1, 2022 and forward. Daily cancer abstracting requires the use of many manuals to abstract a patient’s case daily. One such manual is the Solid Tumor Rules manual by the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program (SEER). The use of this manual, which according to the CancerRegistryeducation.org...

Reportability of Pituitary Adenomas with Spontaneous Regression

Michele Webb, CTR Oncology Leave a Comment

Pituitary adenomas are tumors of the anterior pituitary gland. Most are slow-growing and benign. They are classified based on size or cell of origin and described as microadenoma, macroadenoma, or giant tumors. Microadenomas are usually less than 10 mm in size, while macroadenomas are larger than 10 mm. Giant pituitary tumors are bigger than 40 mm. Adenomas are further...

CoC Launches New Quality Measures in 2022

Michele Webb, CTR Oncology 1 Comment

The Commission on Cancer (CoC) requires accredited programs to treat cancer patients according to nationally accepted measures endorsed by the CoC. The measures are included in the Rapid Cancer Reporting System (RCRS) tool for monitoring and reporting purposes. Standard 7.1 states that each calendar year the expected performance rate should be met for each of the quality...

President’s Cancer Panel Addresses Gaps in Cancer Screening

Suzanne Neve, RHIA, CTR - Director, Cancer Registry Oncology Leave a Comment

Cancer screening saves lives and reduces the burden of cancer in the United States. However, gaps in screening programs mean far too many in the US are presenting with late-stage disease or dying from cancers that were preventable or could have been detected at an earlier stage. The socially and economically disadvantaged populations are often at higher risk for cancer...

Melanoma: A Primer for Cancer Registrars

Suzanne Neve, RHIA, CTR - Director, Cancer Registry Oncology Leave a Comment

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that arises in the melanocytes or cells that produce melanin and determines the color of your skin, or pigment. Melanoma can form in the eyes, and on rare occasions inside the body such as the nose or throat. Its exact causes are not always clear, but evidence does support exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight or tanning...

Navigating Rivers of Change at the NCRA 2022 Annual Conference

Suzanne Neve, RHIA, CTR - Director, Cancer Registry NCRA Leave a Comment

On April 6, 2022, the National Cancer Registrar’s Association (NCRA) will kick off its annual educational conference at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Washington, DC. This year’s conference will offer a first-time ever hybrid experience where virtual attendees can watch the live streaming of the in-person sessions and take part in the live Q&A. Early...

Concurrent Abstracting

Cindy Zahn, MS Oncology Leave a Comment

When I first heard about concurrent abstracting years ago, I thought “they have got to be kidding”. Now, many years later, it is my reality. I have been doing concurrent abstracting since December of 2016. Although concurrent abstracting has many advantages, there are also disadvantages.  What is Concurrent Abstracting? Concurrent abstracting is when you complete the...

Cancer Prevention and Screening a Mixed Bag in 2021

Suzanne Neve, RHIA, CTR - Director, Cancer Registry Oncology Leave a Comment

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates, 608,570 deaths will occur from cancer in the United States in 2021. About 45% are attributed to potentially preventable, pre-pandemic causes such as tobacco smoking, obesity, alcohol intake, physical inactivity, and an unhealthy diet. In the ACS report Cancer Prevention and Early Detection Facts & Figures,...

Life of a Tumor Registrar in a Small Community Hospital Setting

Cindy Zahn, MS Oncology Leave a Comment

I am the sole tumor registrar at a small Commission on Cancer (CoC) accredited facility in the state of Vermont. I have been employed there for over five years. Because I am the only registrar, I am responsible for all the tasks that are involved in maintaining the tumor registry.  When I first started here, I worked 2.5 days at a hospital location and 2 days remotely...

What You Need to Know About Palliative Care in 2021

Suzanne Neve, RHIA, CTR - Director, Cancer Registry Oncology 1 Comment

The purpose and intent of palliative care is often misunderstood. In 1990 the World Health Organization (WHO) recognized palliative care as a distinct medical specialty dedicated to relieving the suffering and improving the quality of life for patients with life-limiting illnesses, chronic disease, or serious injury. Despite its twenty-plus year history, many healthcare...

Spinal Cord Tumors: Reportable or Not?

Suzanne Neve, RHIA, CTR - Director, Cancer Registry Inpatient Coding Leave a Comment

Deciding whether a spinal cord tumor is reportable or not can be a daunting task for even experienced cancer registrars. The decision-making process used for correct case-finding must begin with an understanding of the anatomy, terms and definitions used, and how benign and malignant spinal cord tumors are classified.     Spinal cord tumors are defined by their position...

Oncology Studies Corrective Action Plans for Lasting Improvement

Suzanne Neve, RHIA, CTR - Director, Cancer Registry Oncology Leave a Comment

Corrective action is an aspect of quality management that focuses on rectifying a task, process, product, service, or individual behaviors when any of these factors produce errors, deviate from the original plan or benchmarks. Corrective actions can be thought of as an improvement an organization uses to eliminate undesirable or ineffective outcomes. In this seventh, and...

Oncology Quality Studies: Benchmarking Oncology Data

Suzanne Neve, RHIA, CTR - Director, Cancer Registry Oncology 1 Comment

In our sixth installment in this series on oncology quality studies we will look at the value, challenges, and recommendations for benchmarking oncology data.   Benchmarking is an excellent way to identify opportunities to enhance clinical practices, workflows, procedural efficiency, cost-effectiveness, utilization, and financial outcomes. There are many sources for...

Oncology Quality Studies: Prepare the Summary Analysis

Suzanne Neve, RHIA, CTR - Director, Cancer Registry Oncology Leave a Comment

In this fifth installment of our series on oncology quality studies we will discuss the preparation and writing of the summary analysis and study results. See links for parts 1-4 below.  Although there are no official content outlines for writing the final report, it is important to have a written document that states the project’s goals, lists the strategies used to...

Oncology Quality Studies: Study Conduct and Data Collection (Part 4)

Suzanne Neve, RHIA, CTR - Director, Cancer Registry Oncology Leave a Comment

In this fourth installment of our series on oncology quality studies we will talk about conducting the study according to the planned methodology or quality measures and how to organize the data collection process. The methodology is the roadmap, or strategy, that describes the way the study is to be conducted and identifies the methods to be used during the process. The...

Driving Data into the Future: NCRA Conference Overview

Suzanne Neve, RHIA, CTR - Director, Cancer Registry NCRA 1 Comment

On June 3 – 5, 2021 cancer registrars across the country came together for the National Cancer Registrar’s Association (NCRA) 47th Annual Educational Conference. This year’s event was held virtually and offered up to 29.25 continuing education (CE) hours featuring workshops and presentations from the standard-setting agencies and cancer registry community. Conference...

Oncology Quality Studies: Planning and Methodology (Part 3)

Suzanne Neve, RHIA, CTR - Director, Cancer Registry Oncology Leave a Comment

We have covered the first two steps in this multi-part series. In Step 1 we talked about assembling a team of experts to participate in the study project. In step 2 we identified the problem statement. Now, in Step 3 we will look how the study is conducted and the methodology used to structure the analysis.   Quality studies are, by intent, a process that is used to help...

Oncology Quality Studies: Identifying the Problem

Suzanne Neve, RHIA, CTR - Director, Cancer Registry Oncology Leave a Comment

Quality studies and improvements have much more value than merely meeting a cancer program standards requirement. If planned well and properly conducted, quality studies can energize the members of the team, reduce inefficiencies, increase cost effectiveness, and deliver value to the organization and patients it serves.   Read Part 1 of this article series HERE.  The...

Oncology Quality Studies: Creating a Team of Subject Matter Experts

Suzanne Neve, RHIA, CTR - Director, Cancer Registry Oncology Leave a Comment

There is a Japanese proverb that says, “Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.” When cancer programs start establishing the quality initiative activities each year, they should set aside time to plan and explore proposed topics before launching into analysis or implementing solutions. Failure to take plan or methodically conduct a study...

Understanding the Functions of Different Chemotherapy Agents

Suzanne Neve, RHIA, CTR - Director, Cancer Registry Oncology 1 Comment

Chemotherapy is one of many treatment options for patients with cancer. This form of therapy uses chemical agents (i.e., anti-cancer or cytotoxic drugs) that interact with cancer cells to eradicate or control the growth of cancer. Common alternative forms of treatment include surgery to remove all or a portion of a tumor as well as radiation therapy, hormone therapy, and...

Quality Improvement Meets Oncology

Suzanne Neve, RHIA, CTR - Director, Cancer Registry Oncology Leave a Comment

Why QOPI Programs Matter Quality Oncology Practice Initiative programs are designed for hematology-oncology physician-based practices. Strictly voluntary, QOPI programs provide a valuable tool to assess current practice standards. QOPI Methods and Measurement Chart abstraction is performed twice a year, spring and fall, and covers a five week period. During this...

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