Our Story

Atul Gawande, M.D., surgeon, author and invited speaker addressed the audience of radiation oncologists at the ASTRO annual meeting in Boston. His message mirrored one that has been woven through many of his published articles and books. He observed that our specialty had developed many new devices, machines, and practices over the past 10 years. But how did we know, he asked, if we were implementing the advanced technology correctly?

About 85% of cancer patients in the US are currently being treated for their cancer diagnosis in community hospital settings. Rural/community cancer center physicians are challenged by the need to have a level of expertise in all cancer site treatments. In order to serve community cancer patients well, the community oncologist must function as the “general practitioner” of oncology and yet practice cutting edge oncology for many different cancer diagnoses. In stark contrast, the oncologist practicing at a major cancer center will likely focus their entire career on one disease site and have several colleagues in their department doing the same. Both entities, essential to the practice of medicine, needed to be linked.

With the support of the Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO, Improving Cancer Care Grant funded by Susan G. Komen for the Cure, we have been able to put this "link" into a web-based program. Chartrounds links community practice physicians with each other and disease site experts. The grant spanned a three year period from 2010-2013.

By June 2014, with over 1300 members, the chartrounds project has run over 540 one hour sessions, hosted by some of the leading academic radiation oncologists in the US.  Through feedback responses after each session we know that members think the sessions are extremely relevant to their practice.  Eighty percent of participants say they will make changes in their practice as result of attending the session. Specific changes have consistently been reported as changes in the clinical management of the patient, and changes in treatment planning including dose, fields, and normal tissue toxicity.

With the support of the American Board of Radiology chartrounds sessions now qualify for Maintenance of Certification requirements including Practice Quality Improvement projects and CME. 

The Chartrounds project will improve cancer care in the community setting where the majority of cancer patients are treated in the US. The benefits will translate into more lives cured, by improving the appropriateness of patient selection criteria for treatment, by improving techniques of delivery of radiation, and by decreasing normal tissue toxicities that may contribute to lives lost.

Thank you for your interest, and please join us in our mission to improve cancer care!

Patricia Harrigan Hardenbergh, M.D.