Written By: Melissa Chapman RHIT, CTR
I was invited to submit an abstract for the 49th Annual NCRA Educational Conference, which was held May 7-10, 2023, in San Diego, CA. “Abstracting difficult sites” was one of the many abstract subjects requested. Therefore, the topic I selected was “Abstracting Head and Neck: A CTR’s Perspective” which was based on a very informative presentation I had presented many times over the last couple years. This presentation outlined the challenges of abstracting this very difficult site and how to navigate through these types of cases with ease. The goal was to alleviate the anxiety related to abstracting head and neck cases for all CTR’s. I was honored when I was offered the opportunity to create a poster presentation based off the abstract submitted. This was going to be a real challenge. The complexity of this presentation and the need to minimize the content down to just a poster and brief discussion was what I deemed the most challenging. After careful review of the presentation, I created an informational poster outlining the three major reasons for difficulties in abstracting head and neck cancers. Head and neck cancer incidence rates, primary site identification, and staging criteria were outlined and simplified for the viewer in a streamline format. A lot of hard work went into this presentation and the completion of the final poster was a great accomplishment. I packed the poster up, shipped it off, and awaited the conference. Once at the conference, I mounted the poster to my assigned presentation board and enjoyed the day of conference events. I knew there would be a final judgment of the top 3 posters, and I was excited and nervous to find out the results (which were to be announced the next day).
The next morning, I was pleased to find a bright red 2nd place ribbon on my poster presentation! I was even more honored by this achievement as I began to view some of the amazing poster presentations that were also selected for the conference as well as those winning 1st and 3rd places. All were so informative and well put together and I truly did not know how anyone could select a top 3. What made my poster unique was that it was the only one related to abstracting. What stood out to me the most about all the poster presentations was their content and how useful they all would be in the Cancer Registry (i.e., data collection, statistics, etc.) even after the conference.
I truly appreciate the experience of attending the 2023 NCRA Conference and receiving an award for all the hard work put into, what I felt was, an impossible poster presentation. If you still have access to the conference portal, you can view and download the PDFs of all participant’s poster presentations. I highly recommend it!