By LAURAN NEERGAARD, AP Medical Writer Tue Sep 9, 5:32 PM ET
WASHINGTON - Nearly two-thirds of hospitals fail to check colon cancer patients well enough for signs that their tumor is spreading, says a study that advises patients to ask about this mark of quality care before surgery.
National guidelines say when colon cancer is removed, doctors should check at least 12 lymph nodes for signs of spread. Checking fewer than 12 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, Northwestern University researchers report Tuesday in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.