"Checklist" aims to improve colon cancer care

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colon cancerNEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Researchers have developed a checklist of measures they say could improve the quality of care for people undergoing colon cancer surgery.

It's becoming increasingly important to measure the quality of surgical care for colon cancer, as the population continues to age and more people are treated for the disease, according to researchers from the University of California Los Angeles.

Of the 148,000 Americans diagnosed with colon cancer this year, up to 95 percent will have surgery to remove their tumors -- at facilities ranging from major medical centers to community hospitals and local surgery centers.

To help develop uniform "quality indicators" for patient care before, during and after surgery, the UCLA researchers reviewed medical studies and interviewed leading colon cancer experts. A panel of surgeons then helped them develop a final list of 92 quality measures that's published in the current issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The measures cover pre- and postoperative care, as well as the actual surgery -- including the series of tests and other evaluations that should be performed before surgery; the best surgical techniques for removing various types of colon tumors; and steps to monitor patients' recovery after the operation.

While most doctors and nurses are probably taking many of these steps, they can now have a way of ensuring that everything gets done, according to the UCLA team.

"These indicators could be easily translated into the daily practice of physicians taking care of patients with colorectal cancer," said Dr. Marcia L. McGory, the lead author of the report.

"A checklist could be developed based on these quality measures to ensure that the patient receives all of the appropriate care before the operation, during the operation, and during the postoperative hospital stay," she told Reuters Health.

The quality measures will be available to doctors in the form of a CD. They can also be used by hospitals to track the overall quality of their colon cancer care and to figure out what needs improvement, the researchers say.

source - Reuters 

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