Thursday, April 16, 2009

Wednesday I made a difference

4-16-09 surprised brain
I don’t blog much about my 9 to 5 job. I guess after 25 years working for the State Central Cancer Registry it has become pretty routine for the most part, but Wednesday something very cool happened. I was visiting one of the hospitals in my territory helping with a quality review of their cancer data which gets sent into the Central Registry.

One particular prostate case, a 51 year old white male, had surgery and I noticed that there were positive surgical margins noted on the pathology report which means there was a chance that a small amount of cancer remained in this patient. In this case, one would expect this patient to receive adjuvant radiation treatment, but I didn’t see this information in the abstract I was reviewing. I wondered if this information had been missed, so I asked to see the follow up records from the urologist to see if this had been discussed with the patient, but there was no documentation of this in the medical records. The nurse I was working with then called the urology office and inquired. Lo and behold the positive margin information had been missed and they would now make sure that this patent would be contacted for a return appointment. Being a “young” patient, it will be important for this guy to get adjuvant treatment to prevent a recurrence.

If there is a lesson in this at all, it is to take an active part in your health care. If you have surgery, ask for a copy of your pathology report and have your family doctor or someone else to review this and explain what it all means. Second opinions are a good thing if you feel uneasy about anything. Also seek help from the American Cancer Society. They have a great program called the "Patient Navigator Program". They provide this free service to help cancer patients make informed decisions, and understand treatment options, as well as emotional support and day to day help with transportation and lodging.

I like their motto: Having cancer is hard, Finding help shouldn't be. 1-800-227-2345

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