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Mastering the Concurrent Abstract
Concurrent Abstract

Concurrent abstracting is not a new blog topic for CHAMPS Oncology. We’ve been sharing tips for mastering the art of the concurrent abstract for several years. And although we know it can be challenging to make the switch at your facility, we feel it is the future of the cancer registry profession. Concurrent abstracting allows physicians and hospital administrators to see their data in real-time which in turn may allow for improved patient care outcomes.

Our previous posts on this topic are still excellent resources for those of you interested in making the switch to concurrent abstracting (see Reaching Your Concurrent Abstracting Goal and Concurrent Abstracting in a Time of Change). But, I thought I’d add my tips for mastering the concurrent abstract to the list of resources for those of you out there who are interested…


  • Collect as much information as possible from the medical record in your first initiation of a case/abstract. You can use the RQRS minimum required fields as a guide when initiating these cases.
  • Write notes to yourself in the abstract regarding what information you will need to look for next time you go into that particular case. This will jog your memory so you can easily familiarize yourself with that case the next time you look at it. (e.g., patient referred to medical oncology Dr. Smith for consideration of chemo, radiation and hormones recommended after lumpectomy).
  • Make sure you text all information in detail into the notepad or comment section of your software to ensure you are coding the correct information into the abstract. Accurate texting is crucial when working on a concurrent abstract.
  • Check with your software vendor to see if they are able to create a “flag” option for you so you can easily “flag” cases that need to be updated or finished when more information is available in the medical record.
  • Run a report every few weeks to track and catch treatment on cases that still require treatment information. Make time to review these cases often and continue to look for and add/update treatment at regular intervals.
  • Whenever possible, have the same CTR who initiated the abstract, update and complete the case to ensure accuracy and consistency in the abstract. I would not recommend having someone else complete a case or add information to a case that another CTR initiated.
  • When a surgical procedure is complete, run your edit sets and complete the case, while still keeping the “flag” checked if you are waiting on other outstanding treatment such as radiation therapy, chemotherapy or hormone therapy. Remember to use your “8” codes when you are waiting on treatment that has been recommended but has not yet been received.

By following the tips above, you should be on your way to mastering the art of concurrent abstracting. When your concurrent abstract is finally complete, make sure you have completed all required fields and collected all first-course treatment. Run your edit sets again and complete your case as usual. Make sure you uncheck your “flag” (if one was created) so you know your case is finally complete and that it is no longer necessary to continue to look for information or treatment on that particular case/abstract.

What have you found to be the biggest challenge when making the switch to concurrent abstracting at your facility?

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About the Author

Cortney Grossman, CTR