Oncologists, Pathologists Partner to Improve Practice and Optimize Patient Care

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A healthy flow of information between oncologists and pathologists is critical to meeting each patient’s unique goals and needs during cancer treatment.

—Gene N. Herbek, MD, FCAP

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and the College of American Pathologists (CAP) have announced a new partnership to optimize patient care and foster excellence in the practices of pathology and oncology through interprofessional education, advocacy, quality improvement, international outreach, and development of practice guidelines. 

With the complexity of cancer care, communication between pathologists and clinical oncologists has become critical to accurately diagnose cancer, optimize cancer treatment, and advance cancer research. ASCO and the CAP aim to improve the development, application, interpretation, and dissemination of pathology tests in cancer care, including tumor markers and molecular diagnostics.

“Oncology and pathology professionals and their patients will benefit from closer collaboration and mutual understanding between these two specialties,” said ASCO President Peter Paul Yu, MD, FACP, FASCO. “ASCO’s partnership with the CAP has the potential to greatly facilitate advances in cancer research that could improve the quality of patient care.” 

ASCO and the CAP plan to collaborate on a range of projects aimed at sharing the skills and strengths of both organizations, and their respective members, to improve the integration of clinical oncology and pathology and to optimize the use of pathology services and tests in the care of cancer patients.

“More accurate diagnoses and precise treatments through molecular diagnostics offer new hope for the millions of patients battling cancer each year,” said CAP President Gene N. Herbek, MD, FCAP. “A healthy flow of information between oncologists and pathologists is critical to meeting each patient’s unique goals and needs during cancer treatment.”

Joint Initiatives

Initiatives on which ASCO and the CAP will likely collaborate include: 

  • Continuing medical education on the use, interpretation, and application of molecular diagnostic tests; 
    Joint evidence-based practice guidelines for oncologists and pathologists;
  • International workshops in which oncologists and pathologists from low- and middle- income countries can learn and share what is needed to advance cancer diagnosis and characterization across practice settings;
  • Advocacy and patient information about cancer diagnostics and other issues affecting the optimal use of pathology services in oncology practice.
  • Launched through a jointly signed Memorandum of Understanding, ASCO and the CAP will continue to update members and other stakeholders as the details of this first-ever formal collaboration between the two medical specialty societies unfold. ■