Few Hospitals Meet Colon Cancer Care Standard

WASHINGTON (AP) - A new study shows nearly two-thirds of hospitals fail to check colon cancer patients adequately for signs that their tumor is spreading.

National guidelines say that when colon cancer is removed, doctors should check at least 12 lymph nodes for signs of spreading. Anything less isn't considered enough to be sure the cancer is contained.

But a study of nearly 1,300 hospitals found that overall, just 38 percent fully comply with the guideline.

The lead researcher in the study advises patients to ask about the 12-node check when choosing a cancer surgeon. He also suggests checking the pathology report to be sure it was done.

The report by Northwestern University researchers is in today's Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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