Histopathology reporting in colorectal cancer: a proforma improves quality

Colorectal Dis. 2009 Oct;11(8):849-53. doi: 10.1111/j.1463-1318.2008.01680.x. Epub 2008 Aug 21.


Aim: The histopathology report is vital to determine the need for adjuvant therapy and prognosis in colorectal cancer (CRC). Completeness of those in text format is inadequate. This study evaluated the improvement of quality of histopathology reports following the introduction of a template proforma, based on standards set by the Royal College of Pathologists (RCP), UK.

Method: Sixty-eight consecutive histopathology reports based on 19 items for rectal cancer (RC) and 15 items for colon cancer (CC) using the proforma were prospectively analysed and compared with results of a previous audit of 82 consecutive histopathology reports in text format. The percentage of reports containing a statement for each data item for both series was compared using the Normal test for difference between two proportions. Completeness of each report was assessed and a percentage score (percentage completeness) was given. Mean percentage completeness was calculated for each format and compared using the two sample t-test.

Results: Except for comments on the presence of 'histologically confirmed liver metastases' in CC and RC, 'distance from dentate line' and 'distance to circumferential margin' in RC, all other items were commented in more than 90% of reports, where 71% of the items based on the minimum data set were present in all reports. Compared to prose format, the mean percentage completeness (SD) improved from 74% (8) to 91% (4) (P < 0.0001) and from 81% (5) to 99% (1) (P < 0.0001) for RC and CC respectively in template proforma format.

Conclusion: A template proforma and surgeon's contribution in relation to operative findings improves the quality of the histopathology report in CRC.

MeSH terms

  • Checklist*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / surgery
  • Humans
  • Medical Audit
  • Medical Records / standards*
  • Specimen Handling / standards