New Online Breast Cancer Diagnostic Toolkit Assists Pathologists and Medical Laboratory Professionals at the Point of Need

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) has launched an evidence-based, online diagnostic (Dx) toolkit that provides educational resources at the point of need to pathologists and medical laboratory professionals to enhance their understanding of the diagnosis and management of breast cancer.

"This is a unique cutting edge tool to help pathologists, laboratory professionals and clinicians alike meet their needs in breast cancer education, review and conveyance of important current information about breast cancer tissue preparation, processing and testing to their patients.  This is a model 'just in time learning tool,' an approach which brings resources to medicine in a real time sense," said Eric Wargotz, MD, a member of the Breast Cancer Dx Toolkit Steering Committee.

The online toolkit is designed around actionable topics of tumor sampling, sample processing and transportation, testing and image analysis, scoring and interpretation, and reporting and clinician communication. Every resource is organized to seamlessly integrate with the laboratory work flow. The Breast Cancer Dx Toolkit is supported by a grant from Genentech.

ASCP Chief Executive Officer E. Blair Holladay said, "Just in time learning tools are vital to provide the information and education necessary to operationalize new standards in medical care to maximize patient health."

The value of just in time education is that the users can access these resources to answer their questions in real time, as the questions arise in clinical practice, and immediately integrate and employ evidence-based principles and practices. "This approach contrasts with traditional continuing medical education, in which the learning activity takes place separate from the clinical activity," said Ashley Cimino-Mathews, MD, who served on the Breast Cancer Dx Toolkit Steering Committee.

Just in time learning is targeted and shorter than traditional educational modules which are typically an hour in length and cover multiple areas of a subject. The just in time education module is 15 to 20 minutes and covers a single actionable topic within a broader subject.   

The availability of online resources such as PubMed has made point of need education increasingly common in clinical medicine, but it can be difficult to identify the most pertinent and high yield references, according to Dr. Cimino-Mathews.

Unique to all cancer diagnostic education is that knowledge resources have a short shelf life. This online site is refreshed on a regular basis with evidence-based research identified by ASCP subject matter experts. The Dx Toolkit leverages resources that are drawn from ASCP's expansive library of peer-reviewed multimedia courses, academic journals, enduring materials, referential content, and Case of the Month series, which offers peer comparisons.

"Members of the steering committee each reviewed numerous evidence-based articles identified by the ASCP as relating to pre-analytic, analytic and post-analytic practices in breast cancer. The articles were evaluated for relevancy, usefulness in improving diagnosis or treatment of breast cancer, and contribution to medical knowledge or skills relating to diagnosis or treatment of breast cancer. Articles that were deemed highly relevant and useful were included as resources in the Dx Toolkit," explained Dr. Wargotz.

This toolkit is an example of how ASCP is committed to ensuring that the pathologists and the medical laboratory community is equipped with and remains abreast with the current knowledge in this field in order to provide the highest quality care and treatment to cancer patients.

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About ASCP
Founded in 1922 in Chicago, ASCP is a medical professional society with more than 100,000 member board-certified anatomic and clinical pathologists, pathology residents and fellows, laboratory professionals, and students. ASCP provides excellence in education, certification, and advocacy on behalf of patients, pathologists, and laboratory professionals. To learn more, visit Follow us on Twitter at and connect with us on Facebook at