BROCKVILLE, Ont. – Short wait-times for post-surgery analysis of cancerous specimens are giving patients a greater chance for successful treatment, says Brockville General Hospital pathologist Dr. Naguib Yassa (pictured).
The hospital was recently recognized for achieving a 100 percent turnaround rate for getting results from 63 specimens back to a surgeon within the 14-day time frame set as a standard by Cancer Care Ontario.
It’s the first time all cancerous specimens have been monitored by the CCO, but the hospital has an extended record of reaching the 14-day target 100 percent of the time for colorectal cancer, monitored since 2011, said Yassa.
He said exceeding the standard reflects on the commitment of BGH laboratory staff who see their role as members of a wider healthcare team. “Ours has always been 100 percent since it’s been monitored.”
“It has to be very clear, this is the way to go. Fourteen days is plenty. It’s usually five or six business days.”
After surgery, specimens are rushed to the lab where they are graded and staged (examined for invasion of surrounding tissue). Lymph nodes are also assessed to see if the cancer has spread.
Tissue slides are later sent to Dr. Yassa for examination and consultations take place to assess the findings before gathering it in a report for the surgeon.
He said it is a source of pride for staff that the standard has been maintained for so long and said it reflects on their dedication.
At the same time, the prompt action can bring immeasurable benefit to a patient, he added. “A delay at any stage can affect treatment and outcomes. Patients are very anxious to hear the report and it is important to release it as soon as possible and with the correct information,” he said.
In the large majority of cases, the specimens are assessed and analyzed on site in the BGH laboratory. But in some instances the specimen is sent outside for additional analysis. Even in those cases, BGH has met the standard, he added. BGH is one of nine hospitals in Ontario to reach the 100 percent benchmark last year.
At the same time, Kingston General Hospital and Quinte Healthcare Corporation also met provincial turnaround targets more than 85 percent of the time.