An international survey-based study on colorectal cancer pathology reporting: guidelines versus local practice

Maria Urbanowicz, Heike I. Grabsch, Frederic Fiteni, Yan Liu, Carmela Caballero, Jean-Francois Flejou*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Different guidelines for colorectal cancer (CRC) pathology reporting have been published. We aimed to identify differences between publicly available CRC reporting guidelines and to survey pathologists from different countries to establish the degree of guideline implementation in local routine practice. We compared all core and non-core items of CRC reporting guidelines to identify discrepancies. We then created a survey, which was sent out to 782 pathologists practicing in 30 different countries. It included questions on the demographics of the reporting pathologist as well as resection specimen handling and microscopic evaluation, grading, staging, and additional techniques, such as immunohistochemistry or molecular pathology. First, core and non-core items of five national CRC reporting guidelines were compared and 12 items were found to differ. Different items are considered core or non-core by different guidelines and more than one TNM staging edition was applied across guidelines. The survey was completed by 143 pathologists from 30 countries. We identified differences between local practice and guidelines with potential clinical impact, e.g., tumor budding was never reported by 28.7% of responders, although it has prognostic value for survival in stage II CRC. This is the first international study comparing CRC pathology reporting guidelines with real-world local practices. There are differences in CRC pathology reporting guidelines and in guideline implementation into local practice, both with potential impact on patient care. Harmonization of datasets, use of templates, and audits of local pathology practice are needed to ensure best possible quality of CRC pathology reporting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)697-708
Number of pages12
JournalVirchows Archiv
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


  • Colorectal cancer
  • Guidelines
  • Pathology reporting
  • International survey


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