Histopathology reports on 20 mastectomy and 20 colectomy specimens containing carcinomas were examined from the beginning of each decade for the period 1940-1990. The number of words and items of information in each report were recorded. There was a large (337%) increase in the number of words in reports of both types of specimens with a slightly smaller increase (273%) in the number of items of information. This increase may be due to clinician-led demand for more specific information or be related to the introduction of more detailed systems of pathological staging and prognostic assessment of breast and colonic tumours. The increase in data production and dissemination may not be reflected in workload measurement systems, such as Welcan, and must be considered when assessing the need for secretarial staff.
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