Tumour markers requesting pattern with regards to different organizational settings in Italy: a survey of hospital laboratories

This version was published on 1 July 2009

Ann Clin Biochem 2009;46:316-321
© 2009 Association for Clinical Biochemistry


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Original Articles

Roberta Franceschini1,
Chiara Trevisiol1,
Ruggero Dittadi2 and
Massimo Gion1,2,3

1 Association ABO for the Application of Biotechnologies in Oncology c/o Centre for the Study of Biological Markers of Malignancy;
2 Unit of Laboratory Medicine;
3 Centre for the Study of Biological Markers of Malignancy/Consortium Istituto Oncologico Veneto I.R.C.C.S., Regional Hospital, AULSS 12, Venice, Italy

Corresponding author: Dr Roberta Franceschini. Email: laboratorioabo_firb{at}yahoo.it and cnabo{at}ulss12.ve.it

Background: Tumour markers are frequently used in clinical practice andthe reason for ordering varies considerably and often seemsto be inappropriate. We carried out a survey of Italian laboratorieson their current pattern of use.

Methods: Forty-four laboratories located in health-care institutionswith inpatient beds were surveyed about the organizational,clinical and methodological aspects of tumour markers ordering.

Results: Thirty-one laboratories (70%) filled in and returned the questionnaire. Overall, 977,786 tumour marker tests were scrutinized. The pattern of tumour marker use did not seem to be influenced by the institutional setting, by availability of oncology facilities or by adoption of clinical guidelines. In addition, the information flow from clinicians to the laboratory and vice versa was poor and informal.

Conclusions: Monitoring tumour marker pattern use can provide valuable informationfor health-care decision makers, highlighting potential inadequaciesin laboratory services but also identifying problems in otherareas of health-care delivery that could benefit from educationalprogrammes.

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