AIM: To audit the information content of pathology reports of oesophageal and gastric cancer resection specimens in Wales. METHODS: All such reports from the 16 NHS histopathology laboratories in Wales in a one year period were evaluated for their information content. Two standards were used: (1) best practice reporting, and (2) a minimum dataset required for informed patient management that included clear statements on histological tumour type, depth of tumour invasion, lymph node involvement, and completeness of excision. RESULTS: 282 reports were audited. Minimum standards were achieved in 77% of gastric resections (156/203) and 53% of oesophageal resections (42/79). All laboratories achieved minimum standards in some gastric cancer reports (range 50-100%); three laboratories did not achieve minimum standards in any oesophageal cancer reports (range 0-100%). Best practice reporting was achieved in only 20% of gastric and 18% of oesophageal cancer reports. Failure to include an explicit statement on completeness of excision or involvement of the oesophageal circumferential resection margin were the most frequent causes of inadequate reporting. Most other data items were generally well reported, but apparent inadvertent omission of just one item was noted in many of the substandard reports. CONCLUSIONS: This audit shows the need to improve the information content of pathology reports in gastric and oesophageal cancer. The widespread implementation of template proforma reporting is proposed as the most effective way of achieving this. Multidisciplinary meetings of clinicians involved in cancer management should provide a forum for greater communication between pathologists and surgeons, and help to maintain standards of pathological practice.
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