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CAP Program Empowers Pathologists to Lead Optimal Test Ordering

Kerry Lydon
Phone: 800-323-4040, ext. 7844
Email: media@cap.org

Most recent module uses algorithmic approach to guide colon cancer testing

Northfield, IL — Colorectal cancer is among most common cancers in the U.S., and yet diagnosing it is increasingly complex. Genetic variations and shifting molecular-level patterns in biopsy specimens challenge doctors to know which biomarker tests to order, when to order them, and for which specific patients.

To help doctors navigate colorectal cancer testing and ensure that the proper tests are ordered on each patient, pathologists can turn to the newest module in the College of American Pathologists (CAP) Test Ordering Program: “Biomarkers in Colorectal Cancer.” This module details when to order tests for the oncogene BRAF in follow up to microsatellite instability (MSI) to exclude Lynch Syndrome, a type of colorectal cancer associated with inherited gene mutations.

“Testing for MSI is routine for colorectal cancer in many institutions because it can inform prognosis and treatment,” explains pathologist Shannon McCall, MD, FCAP, author of the module. “The confusion for the ordering physician emerges when he or she wants to rule out Lynch Syndrome. That’s where pathologists can provide sound advice using this module.”

The colorectal cancer biomarker module is the fifth unit in the CAP’s Test Ordering Program, which launched in October 2017. The initial modules cover HCV infection, B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP), N-terminal-proBNP (NT-proBNP), and red blood cell folate testing. Each delivers essential information about commonly misapplied laboratory tests, making it easier for pathologists to lead quality initiatives and counsel clinicians in best practices that lead to better outcomes. Complimentary to all CAP member pathologists, each module includes a downloadable clinical handout, so pathologists can readily share best practices as they educate colleagues.

Learn more about the program.

“Advancements in testing and treatment can be great news for patients, but unless the pathologist provides guidance, hospitals and patients may be burdened with repetitive or unnecessary testing,” explains Peter Perrotta, MD, FCAP, senior editor of the BRAF module and chair of the CAP’s Quality Practices Committee. “Our test ordering program helps pathologists provide that guidance and address the problem.”

About the College of American Pathologists

As the world's largest organization of board-certified pathologists and leading provider of laboratory accreditation and proficiency testing programs, the College of American Pathologists (CAP) serves patients, pathologists, and the public by fostering and advocating excellence in the practice of pathology and laboratory medicine worldwide. For more information, read the 2017 CAP Annual Report at CAP.ORG.