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Cancer management has fanned out far and wide and is no longer solely in the domain of major research and treatment centers. However, those major centers see the full spectrum of oncology cases, and in volumes far exceeding most other hospitals. This has given clinical laboratory professionals at those institutions unique perspective into how cancer affects routine lab results. Three individuals whose practices are devoted to performing and interpreting lab tests in oncology patients will share their insights during an afternoon short course at AACC's Annual Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo on July 29,  The Cancer Patient: Challenges in Interpretation of Routine Laboratory Tests (74219).

“We are going to discuss how some fairly commonly used tests—including routine chemistry and hematology tests—have their results influenced, sometimes unexpectedly, by the cancer process itself,” explained moderator and co-presenter, Melissa Pessin, MD, PhD. “We will use actual case examples to illustrate the problems that come up with cancer patients and lab testing, as well as some possible solutions to improving interpretation of the results in cancer patients.”

Pessin is chair of laboratory medicine at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in New York City. Joining her will be her MSKCC colleague Lakshmi Ramanathan, PhD, who is chief of MSKCC’s clinical chemistry service, and Elizabeth Wagar, MD, the Jose M. Trujillo endowed chair and medical director of laboratory medicine at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

Ramanathan plans to review the limitations of current methodologies for cancer patients, while Wagar plans an overview of how cancer and its treatments affect routine chemistry and serology tests. Finally, Pessin will address how laboratorians can work with clinicians in ordering and interpreting tests for oncology patients.

“While most centers see some cancer patients, both the volume and exclusivity of seeing only cancer patients at both MSKCC and MD Anderson make the challenges in interpretation a daily issue at both of our centers,” Pessin told CLN Stat. “This has caused us to have to either find new solutions or provide interpretive cautions and education to our clinicians that we hope we can share with those who come across these issues at a much lower frequency.”