When it comes to colon cancer, many hospitals have failed their patients.
That’s the conclusion of a study released this week by Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and the American College of Surgeons.
The new study found that only 38 percent of approximately 1,300 hospitals checked a minimum of 12 lymph nodes to determine whether colon cancer has spread. The low percentage comes as a shock because a number of oncology organizations recommend that a minimum of 12 lymph nodes be examined.
According to the statement released by Northwestern University, colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. However, if stage of the cancer is accurately diagnosed, the most effective treatment can be prescribed and the odds of surviving increase.
In 1996-1997, 15 percent of hospitals examined at least 12 nodes. In 2004-2005, the number rose to 38 percent. Unfortunately, that means that 62 percent of U.S. hospitals are falling short.
Karl Bilimoria, M.D., lead author and surgery resident at the Feinberg School, said in a written statement:
“Every surgeon has a story about a colon cancer patient where the pathology report showed only a few lymph nodes and no cancer was found. Then the surgeon asks the pathologist to check six or eight more nodes, and one of those turns out to be positive for cancer.”
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