Community hospitals keep time on tissue handling

The great promise of genomics and actionable cancer biomarkers relies on cancer tissues being handled in the right way so they are suitable for study. Reducing cold ischemia time and the total time that biospecimens spend in formalin is key to the process, say guidelines from the CAP and the American Society of Clinical Oncology on HER2 and on estrogen receptor and progesterone receptor testing in breast cancer specimens.

To hit the recommended times—less than an hour from excision to when the specimen is put in formalin, and between six and 72 hours of total formalin time—takes multidisciplinary coordination and reexamination of anatomic pathology processes. That was the experience of 30 community hospitals that took part in a seven-year National Cancer Institute project devoted to improving cancer care in the kinds of settings where most patients are diagnosed and treated.

The  lede for my feature story in the February edition of CAP TODAY. Read the whole shebang.