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Accuracy of tele-oncology compared with face-to-face consultation in head and neck cancer case conferences.

Journal article
Authors Joacim Stalfors
S Edström
Thomas Björk-Eriksson
Claes Mercke
Jan Nyman
T Westin
Published in Journal of telemedicine and telecare
Volume 7
Issue 6
Pages 338-43
ISSN 1357-633X
Publication year 2001
Published at Institute of Selected Clinical Sciences, Department of Oncology
Institute of Selected Clinical Sciences, Department of Otolaryngology
Pages 338-43
Language en
Keywords Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Case Management, organization & administration, Feasibility Studies, Female, Head and Neck Neoplasms, diagnosis, therapy, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Physical Examination, Remote Consultation, Telemedicine, methods
Subject categories Cancer and Oncology


Telemedicine was introduced for weekly tumour case conferences between Sahlgrenska University Hospital and two district hospitals in Sweden. The accuracy of tele-oncology was determined using simulated telemedicine consultations, in which all the material relating to each case was presented but without the patient in person. The people attending the conference were asked to determine the tumour ('TNM') classification and treatment. The patient was then presented in person, to give the audience the opportunity to ask questions and perform a physical examination. Then a new discussion regarding the tumour classification and the treatment plan took place, and the consensus was recorded. Of the 98 consecutive patients studied in this way, 80 could be evaluated by both techniques. Of these 80, 73 (91%) had the same classification and treatment plan in the telemedicine simulation as in the subsequent face-to-face consultation. In four cases the TNM classification was changed and for three patients the treatment plan was altered. The specialists also had to state their degree of confidence in the tele-oncology decisions. When they recorded uncertainty about their decision, it was generally because they wanted to palpate the tumour. In five of the seven patients with a different outcome, the clinical evaluation was stated to be dubious or not possible. The results show that telemedicine can be used safely for the management of head and neck cancers.

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