May 4, 2023
CHICAGO: In a key step toward understanding how cancer center programs can better address the unique needs of the growing number of adult cancer survivors, the American College of Surgeons’ (ACS) Commission on Cancer (CoC) and Cancer Research Program (CRP) today launched a new Survivorship Services Survey among its CoC-accredited hospitals and cancer centers.
The Survivorship Services Survey will ask centers to describe what services for cancer survivors are currently available at their institution, with the goal of helping centers address gaps in care and connect them with resources to improve survivorship care.
“The needs of cancer survivors are different from other individuals in our healthcare system and providing appropriate specialized services to this unique patient population is key,” said David R. Freyer, DO, MS, principal investigator of the project and director of the cancer survivorship programs at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and the University of Southern California (USC) Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center. “To our knowledge, this survey will provide the first look at the national landscape of survivorship care for adult-onset cancer and establish a benchmark for comparison that can be done in the future. We also think this survey will help highlight current gaps in services nationally and contribute to ongoing efforts to identify survivorship care models that work.”
Dr. Freyer, an expert in cancer survivorship, collaborated with research colleagues from USC and with members of the ACS CoC and CRP to draft the survey. He likened the project to research in pediatric oncology that drove the standardization of survivorship resources for pediatric patients in recent decades.
“The Survivorship Services Survey will yield results with the potential to enhance clinical services and inform further research supporting a high quality of life for cancer survivors,” said Dr. Freyer, who presented on the project at this year’s ACS Cancer Conference in March.
Driven by advances in early detection and cancer treatments, the number of cancer survivors has increased exponentially in recent years. An estimated 18 million Americans are living with cancer,1 and the average 5-year survival rate is now approaching close to 70% based on data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program of the National Cancer Institute.2 By 2028, the number of cancer survivors is expected to reach 20.3 million.
As these patients age, many of them face significant long-lasting effects related to their cancer treatment, including chronic symptoms from chemotherapy, emotional and behavioral distress, and socioeconomic hardships as a result of disrupted education or career training and the high cost of treatments. In addition, fragmented care after treatment and a lack of information can be frustrating and exacerbate these challenges for cancer survivors.
David R. Freyer, DO, MS (center) discusses the launch of the Cancer Survivorship Services Survey at the ACS Cancer Meeting in March.
The project has three main objectives:
All cancer program administrators at CoC-accredited facilities will receive an email this month with more information about the survey and how to participate. Similar emails will be sent to cancer committee chairs, cancer liaison physicians, and certified tumor registrars.
The survey takes approximately 20 minutes to complete, and participants will include a wide-range of CoC-accredited sites, including community cancer programs, hospital associate cancer programs, and academic comprehensive cancer programs. Results will drive future information on how ACS Cancer Programs can respond to the unique needs of cancer survivors.
“We know that the needs of today’s cancer patients are complex and evolving,” said Heidi Nelson, MD, FACS, Medical Director of the ACS Cancer Programs. “This survey is one step toward ensuring that the American College of Surgeons responds to the unique needs of patients throughout the entire continuum of care.”
About 1,500 hospitals and centers throughout the country are currently accredited by the CoC, and survivorship remains an important standard for all accredited sites. The revised standard on survivorship — released in 2020 — recommends and encourages that patients receive a survivorship care plan, but the delivery of such plans is not a required component of the standard. The survivorship survey will facilitate the connection of hospitals with existing centers that have established programs and increase the understanding of how the needs of survivors can be better met.
“The Commission on Cancer has been changing the practice of how we treat cancer for more than 100 years. This survey is one example of how we can continue to evolve to improve cancer care delivery and research to ensure that our cancer programs benefit a broad population of people,” said Timothy Mullett, MD, MBA, FACS, Chair of the CoC and medical director of the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center Network Development. “To do better, we need to better understand the individualized needs of our patients.”
Learn more about the Commission on Cancer.
1 Miller, Kimberly D., et al. “Cancer treatment and survivorship statistics, 2022.” CA: a cancer journal for clinicians 72.5 (2022): 409-436.
2 “Cancer Stat Facts: Cancer of Any Site.” National Cancer Institute, https://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/all.html. Accessed May 3, 2023.
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The American College of Surgeons is a scientific and educational organization of surgeons that was founded in 1913 to raise the standards of surgical practice and improve the quality of care for all surgical patients. The College is dedicated to the ethical and competent practice of surgery. Its achievements have significantly influenced the course of scientific surgery in America and have established it as an important advocate for all surgical patients. The College has approximately 90,000 members and is the largest organization of surgeons in the world. "FACS" designates that a surgeon is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons.