Researchers recognized at Society for Gynecologic Oncology meeting

UNC Lineberger researchers played a prominent role in the society's 2017 Annual Meeting for Women's Cancer.

Researchers recognized at Society for Gynecologic Oncology meeting click to enlarge Emma L. Barber, MD, is a gynecologic oncology fellow at UNC.

UNC Lineberger researchers presented groundbreaking research at the Society for Gynecologic Oncology’s 2017 Annual Meeting for Women’s Cancer, which is being held through Wednesday at National Harbor, Md.

Emma L. Barber, MD, a gynecologic oncology fellow at UNC, presented a study in a plenary session of the meeting about the use of hospital readmissions as an inaccurate measure of care quality for ovarian cancer. While the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services has made reducing readmission rates a priority, research led by Barber and others questioned the use of the readmission rates as a metric for care quality.

The 30-day readmission metric was created to discourage repeated hospitalizations in patients with chronic medical conditions, according to a news release on the paper’s findings. The Affordable Care Act allowed the CMS to penalize hospitals up to three percent of their total reimbursement if a hospital has high readmission rate compared to similar hospitals. Readmission rates also made their own into measures of surgical quality; they are a measure of care quality in some hospital ranking systems.

Research led by Barber and found that women who received chemotherapy prior to surgery had a 36 percent increased rate of death compared with patients who received surgery followed by chemotherapy as initial treatment. However, they had half the rate of readmission. In contrast, those who received surgery first had a higher survival rate, but a higher rate of readmissions.

“Those over-arching policies are going to incentivize gynecologic oncologists to do more chemotherapy before surgery (neoadjuvant chemotherapy),” Barber said in a statement in the release. “This is an example where a well-meaning policy for the broad population has unintended consequences for the smaller ovarian cancer community.”

UNC Lineberger researchers garnered additional honors. A few additional highlights include:

  • Barber received an award for the “Best Clinical Poster Abstract” presented at the 2016 annual meeting. The paper for was “Validity of Currently Available Venous Thromboembolism Risk Assessment Tools in Gynecologic Oncology Patients.” Barber was first author, and the senior was UNC Lineberger member Daniel Clarke-Pearson, MD, chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Robert A. Ross Professor in the UNC School of Medicine. 
  • Leslie Clark, MD, fellow in the UNC Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, was awarded the Laurel Rice Young Investigator prize.
  • Barber presented a study “Are short term quality metrics incentivizing decreased long term survival?” at a focused plenary I session. The study co-authors were Emma C. Rossi, MD, of the UNC Department of Gynecologic Oncology, and UNC Lineberger member Paola Gehrig, MD, professor and director of the UNC Department of Gynecologic Oncology.
  • A study by UNC Lineberger researchers were featured in a focused plenary III session presentation. A presentation was delivered by Arthur-Quan Minh Tran, MD, a fellow in the gynecologic oncology department, on “Reversal of obesity-driven aggressiveness of endometrial cancer by metformin.” The study was senior authored by UNC Lineberger member Victoria Bae-Jump, MD, PhD, associate professor of gynecologic oncology in the UNC School of Medicine.