It’s ‘so long’ to business-as-usual at CAP meeting
For the first time in its history, the CAP is hosting its own annual
meeting—CAP ’03, to be held Sept. 10–14 in San
The CAP has always held its national meetings jointly with the American Society for
Clinical Pathology, which planned the program and many of the courses
offered. But faced with declining attendance and criticism from
members, the CAP approached the ASCP about making changes.
“We’ve been getting multiple and persistent complaints from our membership
expressing dissatisfaction with the meeting,” says CAP president-elect
Mary Kass, MD, who is overseeing the planning for this year’s
event. Among the complaints: The courses were not changed frequently
enough and, addressed to a mixed audience of technical people and
physicians, failed to reach either group effectively. Many participants
felt, too, that the venue, typically a large convention center,
was not conducive to networking.
“We felt very strongly that we had to do something to correct the situation,”
says Dr. Kass, but the CAP found it difficult to engage ASCP in
a discussion. “You can’t fix something if you can’t
discuss it,” she adds. “The CAPfeels that an annual
meeting is an important event for pathologists to come together,
exchange ideas, learn, and see each other. To be able to provide
a forum for this is important.”
The result is CAP ’03, a five-day event featuring 107 speakers on a variety
of topics, from forensic pathologists’ response to the Sept.
11 disaster in New York to molecular pathology, diabetes, digital
imaging, and emerging analytes. The meeting will be held at the
Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina on the waterfront.
“Our main effort is to make this useful to the practicing pathologist,”
says Dr. Kass, director of integrated laboratory services for Medstar,
Washington, DC. “We got the best [speakers] out there to offer
information that pathologists need to run their practice effectively.”
Among the presenters are several clinicians, such as gynecologist Thomas Cox, MD, speaking
on HPV; oncologist Daniel Hayes, MD, on predictive cancer factors;
and cardiologist James deLemos, MD, on cardiac markers. There will
be a dozen microscope tutorials in which attendees can look at the
same slides or other material as the instructors and learn what
drove the diagnoses.
“We invited clinicians because it’s appropriate for pathologists to get
an idea of what clinicians need to know,” Dr. Kass says. “Sometimes
pathologists can be too separated from the clinical side. We thought
if we could have clinicians come in and give their perspective,
it would stimulate pathologists to go back and talk to their own
The three keywords of the meeting are lead, learn, and connect.
“We’re very interested in helping pathologists develop
leadership abilities, especially young pathologists and residents,”
Dr. Kass says. “There are multiple programs to help them be
proactive in their practice and develop a power base within the
parent organization.” An all-day program will focus on giving
presentations. A few sessions aimed at residents will address issues
such as selecting a practice and negotiating a contract.
One of the most important aspects of the meeting is an informal one: the chance
to meet with colleagues and the CAP officers and Board of Governors.
To facilitate networking, the programs will be held in close proximity.
“The meeting rooms are contiguous and we’ve set aside
a 20,000-square-foot area called the ‘connection café’
where people can gather in small groups,” says Dr. Kass. In
addition, attendees will be able to access the Internet to use e-mail
and make appointments.
The CAP is offering menu plan pricing. “You pay only for what you take,”
says Dr. Kass. When ASCP controlled the meeting, “they made
people pay for a whole day even if you only wanted to take one course.”
This year “you can take just one course or register for everything”
and pay accordingly.
The planners hope for a turnout of 600 to 800 people, compared with last year’s
attendance of 400, she says. The CAP doesn’t expect to break
even on the annual meeting for three to five years, Dr. Kass adds,
but is spending money now to give people an event they want to come
to. CAP leaders hope that investment will pay off in the future,
“When I was a resident in pathology and I attended these meetings back
in the early 1970s, there would be thousands of people,” she recalls.
But over the years, attendance and interest waned. “We have tried to address
every criticism made of the past meetings, the majority of which were valid,”
says Dr. Kass. “Our people voted with their feet. They weren’t getting
value for their money so they stopped coming. We’re trying to give them
One course that will be offered for the first time is “Molecular
Pathology: Principles and Practice,” led by James Versalovic,
MD, PhD, assistant professor of pathology and microbiology at Baylor
College of Medicine and director of microbiology at Texas Children’s
“This is a very comprehensive course,” he notes. Instead of the usual
two- or three-hour session, “we’re dedicating two days
to one subject.” The session aims to teach the practicing
pathologist ‘the A to Z of molecular pathology,’”
Dr. Versalovic says. Subjects will include basic methods and technologies;
financial concerns and business models, such as how to set up a
lab; examples of current diagnostic services; molecular oncology
and microbiology; and genetics.
“We’re going to incorporate actual cases” from the experience of
the faculty, which includes 11 specialists in the area, he says.
“This is for the pathologist who wants rapid immersion in
this area.” One afternoon will be devoted to vendor workshops,
sponsored by companies such as Abbott Laboratories, on genetic testing
With PCR, “it’s possible to do a rapid molecular diagnosis while the patient is
still on the table,” Dr. Versalovic says. “It gives
you information you can’t see under the microscope.”
Having these techniques available “will revolutionize the
practice of anatomic pathology.”
The course will be useful even for pathologists who don’t plan to set up a
molecular pathology practice, he says. Labs that outsource the testing
need to understand the role of molecular pathology and how to interpret
The course is cosponsored by the Association for Molecular Pathology and the
American College of Medical Genetics.
Last year the CAP’s Strategic Science session on HPV testing had
a waiting list, so the highlights of that session will be repeated in a course at
the annual meeting. “We will have new information on the efficacy
of HPV testing, particularly as a screening test, and any new guidelines
available,” says Diane D. Davey, MD, who’s leading the
course. She is professor of pathology and laboratory medicine and
laboratory director of the cytopathology and bone marrow laboratories
at the University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center, Lexington.
Dr. Davey will also lead one of the tutorials, which will cover squamous cell lesions
and specimen adequacy in cervical cytology. Participants will be
able to view slides through a multiheaded microscope and learn why
a specimen is abnormal or negative. Two other cytopathology tutorials
will examine glandular lesions and nongynecologic cases.
For the squamous cell presentation, Dr. Davey plans to bring slides from her own
lab and from the CAP Interlaboratory Comparison Program in Cervicovaginal
Cytopathology. “We’ll have both common and uncommon
cases,” she says. “We’ll learn how to assess specimen
adequacy using Bethesda 2001 criteria.” The tutorial is aimed
at pathologists, residents, and cytotechnologists.
Oncologist Dr. Hayes will be the featured speaker in the course “Predictive
Cancer Factors 2003: What’s Next and What Matters?,”
led by M. Elizabeth Hammond, MD, chair of the Department of Pathology
at LDS Hospital/Intermountain Healthcare, Salt Lake City.
Dr. Hayes will address the use of predictive markers in treating patients, emphasizing
the unique role of these tests in predicting therapeutic responses.
The course will focus on currently useful factors such as HER2/neu
and those factors that may soon be required by oncologists for patient
care, including uPA and PAI-1, EGFR, and Ki-67. Practical approaches
for improving diagnostic accuracy will be addressed, including the
role of tissue arrays in proficiency testing and better reporting
and interpretation strategies.
In an outreach effort, the CAP contacted San Diego science teachers, who will select
student projects to be eligible for an award. “The best science
students will come as our guests,” says Dr. Kass. “We’re
arranging for our residents to be ‘buddies’ to these
students and tell them about pathology.” Winners of the awards
will attend certain presentations, such as that on molecular pathology,
and sit in on the keynote address by Lily Tomlin.
Karen Southwick is a writer in San Francisco.