Concurrent Abstracting

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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 abstract in stages rather than waiting until all of the treatment data is available. This could take anywhere from months to a year.

Abstract Setting

I work in a small community hospital program with CoC accreditation. I abstract less than 400 cases per year. I think having such a small size caseload makes it more attainable in comparison to a medium or large sized facility.

The whole process is very simple. Every day I get pathology reports from our pathology department. Once I get them, I start an abstract. I fill in all the demographic information and then whatever information I have on the cancer treatment. I then save it and add it to an Excel spreadsheet. If the patient come back to our facility for more surgery, that will be added when I get the pathology report. Other treatment such as chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy will be added once the treatment is completed.


Some of the advantages of abstracting concurrently are timely submission of our cancer data to RCRS and the state registry. It also helps to keep follow up current. It has made a significant impact on the number of patients listed on the monthly follow-up report. Personally, I like completing the abstract in segments as opposed to sitting and working on one abstract for an hour or more.


This procedure works fine for the cases that are diagnosed and treated here. But we have an onsite cancer center, and they receive patients that have not had any of their treatment here thus far. Or they might have been diagnosed here, gone elsewhere for surgery, and then come back to the cancer center for their adjuvant therapy. The cancer center might be there first point of contact. These patients are harder for me to track. I usually get an Excel spreadsheet once a month with all patients who have been into the facility. These are listed by ICO-10 codes. This list has hundreds of patients who currently have, or have had in the past, a diagnosis of cancer. This is usually where I get this information from. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I was not able to get this report for many months and I am a bit behind with this.

Another problem I have encountered is with the software vendor. I started abstracting cases for the new year on the first week of January. The software vendors do not release updates until many months later. Whereas some cases require months of treatment so this might not be an issue. But we do have some cases that only require surgery and need no further treatment. In this case, abstracts can be done within 1-3 months.

I love doing concurrent abstracting now. I don’t think I will ever be able to go back to doing it the other way. I’m not sure how easy it would be to get this started at a medium or large-scale facility. If you work in a facility such as this and are utilizing concurrent abstracting, I would love to hear from you as to how long you have been using this process and what your procedure is.

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