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News from the American College of Surgeons

For Immediate Release

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Second Volume of Operative Standards for Cancer Surgery Manual Presents Evidence-Based Recommendations for Five New Disease Sites

Preliminary work is underway to incorporate a portion of these technical recommendations into the Commission on Cancer standards, which are being rewritten this year.

CHICAGO (August 28, 2018): The second volume of Operative Standards for Cancer Surgery, a collaborative manual from the American College of Surgeons (ACS) and the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology, is now available for print and electronic purchase. This volume of the manual focuses on a different group of cancers—thyroid cancer, gastric cancer, rectal cancer, esophageal cancer, and melanoma—than the first volume published in 2015. However, it shares the same goal: to recommend the steps that need to occur in the operating room from skin incision to skin closure that assure the best oncological outcomes for patients. Recommendations from these first two volumes are serving as an initial point of discussion as the ACS Commission on Cancer (CoC) works to revise their accreditation manual and requirements later this year. Preliminary work is being done to incorporate a portion of the recommendations into the new CoC standards for implementation by 2020.

Similar to the first volume, the second volume is not meant to be a surgical atlas. Instead, the recommendations it offers are part of a shift in the way surgeons are performing cancer operations to ensure the procedures are guided by the strongest-available evidence, according to the leadership of the Alliance/ACS Clinical Research Program (ACS CRP) Cancer Care Standards Development Committee, which led development of both manuals. Until recent years, little critical effort has been made to define standards for the technical conduct of cancer operations.

“Unfortunately, we’ve found that some of the things that surgeons accept as gospel don’t necessarily have the best evidence behind them,” said Nirmal Veeramachaneni, MD, FACS, Committee Vice-Chair. “This project has exposed that deficiency, and has offered avenues for investigation moving forward. It makes us rethink and question everything,” he said.

The history of breast cancer treatment provides an example of a lack of evidence-based treatment strategies. In the late 19th century, surgeons performed radical mastectomies, which entailed removing the patient’s entire breast as well as the underlying chest muscle, Dr. Veeramachaneni explained. This was a rather aggressive procedure, but “we used to think that doing more led to better outcomes,” he said. By the 1970s, however, surgeons were performing less extensive operations, which represented a dramatic change of course.

Committee Chair Matthew H. G. Katz, MD, FACS, agreed that the way surgeons are taught to perform certain procedures is not always based on evidence. However, the goal of this manual is to define standards for how these procedures should be conducted to maximize survival and quality of life after the operations.

Similar to the first volume of the manual (covering breast, colon, lung, and pancreas cancer), this volume breaks down the major cancer operations for each of the five disease sites into critical steps. These critical steps were perceived by teams of experts and stakeholders around the country to have the most significant influence on outcomes, Dr. Katz said. Then, the teams determined how each step should be performed based on a review of available literature and expert opinion. The teams also identified key questions (areas of controversy) for each site related to the technical aspects of how the operations should be performed. Dr. Katz said these questions could be used as the basis for future clinical trials.

Drs. Katz and Veeramachaneni believe the publication of this volume is just the beginning, and their committee has more work to do in the ongoing process of improving cancer operations and outcomes. The CoC is currently working on rewriting its standards this year, and the technical recommendations in this manual will likely be part of discussions as they do so, Dr. Katz said. Within the next few years, a third volume of the manual focusing on seven additional disease sites will be released.

“We hope that the recommendations become actively used and achieve greater legitimacy,” Dr. Katz said.

To order a copy of the second volume of the manual, visit this website. No date has been set for the publication of the third volume. This manual was published by Wolters Kluwer. For more information, contact

"FACS" designates that a surgeon is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons.

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About the American College of Surgeons
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 more than 80,000 members and is the largest organization of surgeons in the world. For more information, visit

About the Alliance/ACS Clinical Research Program (ACS CRP)
The mission of the Alliance/American College of Surgeons Clinical Research Program (ACS CRP) is to reduce the impact of cancer by increasing knowledge and awareness of new evidence and practice standards; increasing the participation of community oncology surgeons in cancer research and cancer care activities; developing and implementing evidence-based practices in surgical oncology; and creating opportunities for meaningful health services research. For more information and for opportunities to get involved, visit

About the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology
The Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology develops and conducts clinical trials with promising new cancer therapies, utilizes the best science to develop optimal treatment and prevention strategies for cancer, and researches methods to alleviate side effects of cancer and cancer treatments. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has awarded the Alliance grants as a member of the NCI’s National Clinical Trials Network (NCTN) and a research base for the NCI Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP). The Alliance comprises nearly 10,000 cancer specialists at hospitals, medical centers, and community clinics across the United States and Canada. To learn more about the Alliance, visit