An Internet-Based Collaborative Cancer Conference for Rectal Cancer Influenced Surgeon Treatment Recommendations
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INTRODUCTION: In many jurisdictions geographic and resource constraints are barriers to multidisciplinary cancer conference review of all patients undergoing cancer surgery. We piloted an internet-based collaborative cancer conference (I-CCC) for rectal cancer to overcome these barriers in the LHIN4 region of Ontario (population 1.4 million). METHODS: Surgeons practicing at one of 10 LHIN4 hospitals were invited to participate in I-CCC reviews. A secure internet audio and visual link facilitated review of cross-sectional images and case details. Before review, referring surgeons detailed initial treatment plans. Main treatment options included preoperative radiation, straight to surgery, and plan uncertain. Changes were noted following I-CCC review from initial to final treatment plan. Major changes included: redirect patient to preoperative radiation from straight to surgery or plan uncertain; and redirect patient to straight to surgery from preoperative radiation or plan uncertain. Minor changes included: change type of neoadjuvant therapy; request additional tests (e.g., pelvic MRI); or formal MCC review. RESULTS: From November 2010 to May 2012, 20 surgeons (7 academic and 13 community) submitted 57 rectal cancer cases for I-CCC review. After I-CCC review, 30 of 57 (53 %) cases had treatment plan changes: 17 major and 13 minor. No patient or tumour factors predicted for treatment plan change. CONCLUSIONS: An I-CCC for rectal cancer in a large geographic region was feasible and influenced surgeon treatment recommendations in 53 % of cases. Because no factor predicted for treatment plan change, it is likely prudent that all rectal cancer patients undergo some form of collaborative review.
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