American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

News from the American College of Surgeons
                          National Comprehensive Cancer Network
                          American Cancer Society 

For Immediate Release

American College of Surgeons endorses resumption of cancer screening and treatment during COVID-19 pandemic in partnership with leading cancer organizations

“Cancer Doesn’t Stop for COVID-19 and Neither Should You” message reminds public that cancer is still a major health threat

CHICAGO (January 28, 2021): The American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer (ACS CoC) has teamed up with the National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®), the American Cancer Society (ACS) and other leading cancer organizations across the country to endorse the resumption of appropriate cancer screening and treatment to prevent excess deaths during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The coalition of 76 organizations has released an open letter reminding the public that cancer still poses a major threat to people’s health, but acting as soon as is safely possible can lead to much better outcomes in the future. The letter examines distressing trends showing a significant drop-off in recommended cancer screening and treatment compared to prior years. This concerning side-effect of the pandemic could lead to a staggering number of preventable cancer deaths over the next ten years and beyond. Oncology experts agree that people should not delay any necessary prevention or care.

“Cancer doesn’t stop—even during a global pandemic,” said Timothy W. Mullett, MD, FACS, Chair of the ACS Commission on Cancer. “Delays in recommended cancer screenings may result in missed early-stage cancers, increasing the chance of presentation at a more advanced stage with poorer clinical outcomes. Delaying recommended surgical treatment can also lead to a far worse outcome.  Now is the time for patients and providers to make recommended screenings or surgery appointments a priority. Cancer centers are prepared to deal with COVID-19 safety issues and still deliver recommended care.”  

“When cancer is caught earlier, it is typically easier to treat because there are more options available,” said Robert W. Carlson, MD, CEO, NCCN. “When the pandemic first hit the United States, a short delay in care was an appropriate choice for many cancer types. However, the balance of risk has shifted significantly. We now have two impressive vaccines that are being distributed around the world. We also know much more about how to treat and prevent COVID-19. Cancer centers are taking multiple measures to protect patients and staff from COVID-19 and transmission within cancer centers is quite unusual. Meanwhile, far too many cancers are being left to grow unchecked. Postponing cancer care will add tragedy on top of tragedy.”

“It is of the utmost importance that critical cancer screenings resume as soon as safely possible,” said William G. Cance, MD, Chief Medical and Scientific Officer of the American Cancer Society. “Over the past decade we have seen overall cancer mortality rates drop dramatically. This decline is in large part due to screening’s ability to catch cancers before they spread—when the chances of good outcomes are most likely. We have come too far in our fight against cancer to allow long breaks in vital screening to slow down our progress in saving lives.”

Hospitals and medical systems across the country have already begun vaccinating health care providers among other measures to ensure a safe environment for people receiving cancer screening and treatment. The confirmed use of evidence-based precautions against COVID-19 should provide reassurance against fears of infection during necessary medical care.

In the letter, the cancer organizations point out that researchers around the world have made tremendous strides in controlling cancer in recent years. Leading oncology experts are now asking everyone, in coordination with their health care provider, to resume preventive and prescribed care and contact their doctor right away about any new symptoms or concerns.

In addition, American College of Surgeons Cancer Programs has released resource and guidance documents on the recommended delivery of surgical and cancer care during the COVID-19 pandemic:

The American College of Surgeons has also released a patient-surgeon discussion guide so patients can feel prepared to speak with their surgeon about safely returning to the health care facility for treatment. 

Visit NCCN.org/resume-screening to read the entire letter. For general guidance and information about cancer, visit NCCN.org or Cancer.org.

# # #

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. 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 82,000 members and is the largest organization of surgeons in the world. The College administers the Commission on Cancer (ACS CoC), a consortium of professional organizations dedicated to improving survival and quality of life for cancer patients through standard setting, which promotes cancer prevention, research, education, and monitoring of comprehensive quality care.

About the National Comprehensive Cancer Network
The National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®) is a not-for-profit alliance of leading cancer centers devoted to patient care, research, and education. NCCN is dedicated to improving and facilitating quality, effective, efficient, and accessible cancer care so patients can live better lives. Visit NCCN.org for more information on the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®) and other initiatives. Follow NCCN on Facebook @NCCNorg, Instagram @NCCNorg and Twitter @NCCN.

About the American Cancer Society
The American Cancer Society is a global grassroots force of 1.5 million volunteers dedicated to saving lives, celebrating lives, and leading the fight for a world without cancer. From breakthrough research, to free lodging near treatment, a 24/7/365 live helpline, free rides to treatment, and convening powerful activists to create awareness and impact, the Society is the only organization attacking cancer from every angle. For more information go to www.cancer.org.

# # #

TO SPEAK WITH A REPRESENTATIVE, CONTACT:

American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer
Sally Garneski
312-202-5409
pressinquiry@facs.org

National Comprehensive Cancer Network®
Rachel Darwin 
267-622-6624
darwin@nccn.org

American Cancer Society
Teri Mitchell Porter 
312-909-9385 
teri.mitchellporter@cancer.org