Open Access Research article

The CAP cancer protocols – a case study of caCORE based data standards implementation to integrate with the Cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid

Jonathan Tobias1, Ram Chilukuri2, George A Komatsoulis3, Sambit Mohanty4, Nicholas Sioutos5, Denise B Warzel3, Lawrence W Wright6 and Rebecca S Crowley478*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pathology, University of California at Los Angeles School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA, USA

2 SemanticBits, LLC, Reston, VA, USA

3 National Cancer Institute Center for Bioinformatics, National Institutes of Health, United States Department of Health and Human Services, Rockville, MD, USA

4 Department of Pathology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

5 Lockheed Martin Information Technology, Rockville, MD, USA

6 Office of Communications, National Cancer Institute, Rockville, MD, USA

7 University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

8 Center for Biomedical Informatics, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

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BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 2006, 6:25  doi:10.1186/1472-6947-6-25

Published: 20 June 2006



The Cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid (caBIG™) is a network of individuals and institutions, creating a world wide web of cancer research. An important aspect of this informatics effort is the development of consistent practices for data standards development, using a multi-tier approach that facilitates semantic interoperability of systems. The semantic tiers include (1) information models, (2) common data elements, and (3) controlled terminologies and ontologies. The College of American Pathologists (CAP) cancer protocols and checklists are an important reporting standard in pathology, for which no complete electronic data standard is currently available.


In this manuscript, we provide a case study of Cancer Common Ontologic Representation Environment (caCORE) data standard implementation of the CAP cancer protocols and checklists model – an existing and complex paper based standard. We illustrate the basic principles, goals and methodology for developing caBIG™ models.


Using this example, we describe the process required to develop the model, the technologies and data standards on which the process and models are based, and the results of the modeling effort. We address difficulties we encountered and modifications to caCORE that will address these problems. In addition, we describe four ongoing development projects that will use the emerging CAP data standards to achieve integration of tissue banking and laboratory information systems.


The CAP cancer checklists can be used as the basis for an electronic data standard in pathology using the caBIG™ semantic modeling methodology.