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

March 2016 CoC Source

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CoC News

Congratulations to the 27 Outstanding Achievement Award Recipients

The Commission on Cancer (CoC) has presented the second installment of 2015, Outstanding Achievement Award (OAA) to 27 CoC-accredited cancer programs in the U.S. 

The purpose of the award is to raise the bar on quality cancer care, with the ultimate goal of increasing awareness about high-quality, patient-centered care. In addition, the award is intended to:

  • Recognize those cancer programs that achieve excellence meeting the CoC Standards 
  • Motivate other cancer programs to work toward improving their level of quality cancer care
  • Facilitate dialogue between award recipients and health care professionals at other cancer facilities for the purpose of sharing best practices 
  • Encourage honorees to serve as quality care resources to other cancer programs

Including the 23 centers awarded in the first half of 2015, these 50 programs received the OAA as a result of surveys performed in 2015, and represent approximately 12 percent of cancer programs surveyed during this period. The majority of recipient’s program categories are comprehensive community-based facilities, in addition to community, academic, and integrated networks. New programs undergoing initial survey and National Cancer Institute-designated programs are not eligible to earn the OAA. 

The CoC Press Release and the finalized list of OAA recipients are now online. Questions regarding the OAA should be sent to the Accreditation team.

National Cancer Survivors Day

Sunday, June 5, marks the 29th annual National Cancer Survivors Day®, which brings cancer survivors together to show that there is life after receiving a diagnosis of cancer. 

The Commission on Cancer (CoC) and the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC) encourage you to observe this day and use it as an opportunity to display or promote your CoC and NAPBC accreditation statuses. To help you promote this event within your program and the community, we have created a poster that you can download and print. If your program holds accreditation from the CoC only or both the CoC and NAPBC, you can access the poster by going to CoC Datalinks and clicking on Marketing Resources. For programs that are accredited solely by NAPBC, use the link to the Marketing Resources website provided in your performance report e-mail notification. 

We encourage you to reach out to your community and sponsor activities that:

  • Recognize cancer survivors 
  • Support patients with cancer 
  • Screen and educate community members on cancer prevention and detection 

Additional resources to promote your event are available on the National Cancer Survivors Day website. Please let us know about your celebration by sending photos and event information to Susan Rubin, Business Development Manager, ACS Cancer Programs.

Meet CoC Staff at Upcoming Exhibits

The CoC and NAPBC will be exhibiting at the following meetings.  Please stop by our booth and meet our staff. 


NCoBC 2016  (Sponsored by the National Consortium of Breast Centers)
April 9–13 in Las Vegas, NV
Exhibit days:  April 9–11

NCRA’s 42nd Annual Educational Conference (Sponsored by the National Cancer Registrars Association)
April 10–13 in Las Vegas, NV
Exhibit Days: April 11–13

ASBrS 17th Annual Meeting (Sponsored by the American Society of Breast Surgeons)
April 13–17 in Dallas, TX
Exhibit Days: April 14–16 

Advocacy Update

CoC Advocacy Committee Brings Legislative Priorities to Capitol Hill

The CoC held its first Advocacy Committee fly-in meeting in Washington, DC, on February 9. The Advocacy Committee met before the fly-in to discuss its legislative priorities for 2016. Participants visited with members of Congress and their health policy staffs to discuss the CoC’s legislative agenda for 2016.

A key legislative item discussed in the meetings on Capitol Hill was H.Res. 487, bipartisan legislation introduced by Reps. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) and Richard Neal (D-MA), which recognizes the importance of voluntary accreditation by the CoC to ensure access to high-quality, patient-centered cancer care. Other priorities brought to the Hill included the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act, Cancer Care Payment Reform Act of 2015, Cancer Drug Coverage Parity Act, and Planning Actively for Cancer Treatment Act.

If you are interested in learning more about these bills or are interested in contacting your congressional representatives on these or other cancer-related issues, please contact Carrie Zlatos, Congressional Lobbyist, ACS Division of Advocacy and Health Policy, or Nina Miller, Cancer Liaison Initiatives Manager, Cancer Department.

Recognizing the Importance of CoC Accreditation

Ask your congressional representative to become a co-sponsor of H. Res. 487, which recognizes the importance of voluntary accreditation by the CoC in ensuring access to high-quality cancer care.

Contact Your Members of Congress
Make your voice heard.

Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) and Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) introduced H. Res. 487.  Currently, there are approximately 1,500 CoC-accredited cancer programs across the country, treating more than 70 percent of newly diagnosed cancer patients each year. According to a study in the Journal of Surgical Oncology, accreditation is regarded as important in improving oncologic outcomes through compliance with standards that include continuous quality improvement.

Take Action Now: Please contact your representative using this e-mail template and urge him or her to co-sponsor H. Res. 487.

Accreditation Corner

Become a CoC Surveyor

The CoC is recruiting physicians interested in becoming CoC surveyors. Qualified candidates should be actively practicing medicine for a CoC-accredited cancer program or recently retired. Surveyors must be current members of a cancer committee at a CoC-accredited facility and be familiar with the CoC Standards.

Surveyors must be willing and able to travel nationwide to survey cancer programs seeking accreditation or reaccreditation with the CoC. Surveyors will meet and present to key facility administration and the cancer committee at each program, review electronic activity submissions, and assess program compliance with the requirements for all standards.

Many physicians have expressed their enjoyment of surveying and why they became CoC surveyors, including the following:

  • “[My] favorite aspect of surveying is to share experiences in the delivery of higher standards for patient care.” 
  • “I became a surveyor to promote the value and importance of CoC accreditation. I believe that accreditation gives assurance to both patients and families that they are receiving high-quality cancer care.” 
  • “I became a surveyor to provide support and encouragement to programs as they struggle to solve cancer care problems.” 
  • “[My] favorite aspect of surveying is observing the interactions among the members of the cancer committees within programs that demonstrate a commitment to continuous assessment and improvement of the care provided to patients.” 
  • “[My] favorite aspects of surveying are observing the ways that a program uses their data to understand the needs of their patients, make improvements in the patient care process, and plan outreach activities.” 

If you have any questions, or would like to learn more about becoming a CoC surveyor or to request an application, contact Allison Knutson.

View our Surveyor Profiles.

National Cancer Data Base News

What to Do with 2016 Cases

Abstract in NAACCR Version 15-compliant Software and Submit to RQRS!

Due to delays beyond cancer registry software vendor control, the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR) version 16 software upgrades will not be available until June or July of 2016 (or possibly later).  As a result, the National Cancer Data Base (NCDB) strongly encourages registrars to begin abstraction of cases diagnosed in 2016 within their current NAACCR v15-compliant software.  There is no reason to delay the abstraction of 2016 cases until you receive your upgraded software.  The Rapid Quality Reporting System (RQRS) will accept cases diagnosed in 2016 in the NAACCR v15 file format. There may be some interim issues with data quality edits, but note that these will be resolved after these cases have been resubmitted when your registry upgrades to v16 and you are able to complete the abstracts.

Upon upgrade to NAACCR v16-compliant software, all data included in the v15 hospital registry database will be converted, with the exception of the individual Tumor, Lymph Nodes, and Metastatis (T, N, and M) categories for 2016 cases (existing T, N, and M categories will be copied over). Consequently, when abstracting these cases, registrars should be sure to clearly document the appropriate T, N, and M categories via text. Upon upgrade to NAACCR Version 16-compliant software, the original T, N, and M categories assigned by the registrar will be retained (that is, the c and p prefixes will not be added by the conversion process). The registrar will have to accurately reassign the new T, N, and M categories (that include c and p designations) for these cases from within their NAACCR v16-compliant software based on review of the textual documentation.

In addition, registrars should also be sure to record thorough textual documentation for the new data items that will need to be abstracted for 2016 cases after software upgrade:

  • Tumor Size Summary [756]
  • SEER Summary Stage 2000 [759] 
  • Mets at Diagnosis – Distant Lymph Nodes [1114]
  • Mets at Diagnosis – Bone [1112]
  • Mets at Diagnosis – Brain [1113]
  • Mets at Diagnosis – Liver [1115]
  • Mets at Diagnosis – Lung [1116]
  • Mets at Diagnosis – Other [1117]

Resources for Cancer Liaison Physicians

Attention CLPs: Save the Date!

During 2016, the Committee on Cancer Liaison will hold two breakfast meetings for Cancer Liaison Physicians (CLPs) to hear new initiatives and to network with CLPs from across the U.S.

The first CLP breakfast meeting will take place in conjunction with the 2016 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) “Collective Wisdom” annual meeting, 6:30 am–7:30 am, Monday, June 6 at the Hyatt Regency McCormick, Chicago, IL. All in attendance for the ASCO meeting are welcome to attend. Contact if you plan to attend this meeting. Be sure to include your facility’s name and your role (for example: CLP, registrar, cancer committee chair).  

The second CLP breakfast meeting will be held in Washington, DC on Monday, October 17, in conjunction with the American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress.

We hope to see you there!

Educational Programs and Resources

Register for Accreditation 101 and Receive a FREE Webinar

The CoC's spring Accreditation 101: Learning the Basics of CoC Accreditation and Standards is just five weeks away. Register now and receive FREE access to a live webinar, Accreditation 101 Follow-Up, featuring Karen Stachon, Accreditation Technical Specialist at the Commission on Cancer.  This 30 minute webinar will briefly review the process to become CoC-accredited and end with a Q&A session. This bonus webinar is only available to Accreditation 101 registrants. 

On-site, you will hear from those who developed the CoC Standards, on the value of accreditation, an overview of the standards, what to expect during the survey process, and the changes in the new standards manual.

Speakers include:
Bill Laffey, MBA, Surveyor, Commission on Cancer
M. Kathleen Christian, MD, Surveyor, Commission on Cancer
Allison Knutson, CCRP, Manager, Accreditation and Standards, Commission on Cancer
Karen Stachon, Accreditation Technical Specialist, Commission on Cancer
Erica McNamara, MPH, Associate Manager, National Cancer Data Base (NCDB) 

Register Today!
Program Overview

Registration for the CoC Annual Conference: Pathway to Quality to Open Soon

CoC Annual Conference: Pathway to Quality
Featuring NCDB Workshop: Utilizing the NCDB for Quality Improvement  
June 1-3, 201
Rosemont, IL (near O’Hare airport)

June 1-2 
CoC Standards Focus

The 2016 CoC Annual Conference offers an in-depth review of the information that an institution’s cancer committee needs to coordinate a high-quality, patient-centered, multidisciplinary cancer program. CoC accreditation and participation in the National Cancer Data Base (NCDB) promote improved patient outcomes and offer high-quality, patient-centered care. Proper understanding of the standards, use of NCDB, and how to meet compliance are the fundamental building blocks to achieving excellence and accreditation. Developed by CoC staff and committee leadership, along with real-world experiences from accredited cancer programs, this program addresses a cancer program’s common questions and concerns regarding CoC standards and compliance.

June 3 
NCDB Workshop: Utilizing the NCDB for Quality Improvement  

Cancer Committee Members in CoC-accredited cancer programs hold the unique position of accessing their own cancer center data and comparing with other cancer center data for cancer care quality improvement.  In this full day workshop, physicians and members of the cancer committee will gain skills and knowledge to lead quality improvement initiatives within cancer programs, maximally utilizing the NCDB Quality Tools and Quality Measures. Participants will learn from experts in the field and leave this workshop with the basics of creating and executing a quality improvement project, team building, interpretation of quality measures and other NCDB data tools. This workshop is highly interactive and will provide examples of best practices.


Early Bird
(on or before 4/29/16)  

Regular Rate
(after 4/29/16)  


 CoC Annual Conference (June 1-2)




 NCDB Workshop
(June 3)




 All 3 Days 




This fee includes resource materials, breakfast, lunch, and breaks. 

Hotel Rate

Registration is set to open in the next week or two. Look for a special CoC Source, which will be distributed when registration opens. Please stay tuned to the CoC Events page for further details. 

News from ACoS Cancer Programs


AJCC Staging Critical Clarifications for Registrars
It has come to the attention of the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) that there are some misconceptions regarding the staging rules for Melanoma. The AJCC will clarify these issues in the Cancer Staging Manual 8th Edition. However, the AJCC recognizes it is critical to provide clarification and explanation on 7th edition staging rules for the registry community as part of the ongoing educational efforts.  We want to ensure that Misconceptions should  not perpetuate, and any errors in education provided outside of the AJCC must be corrected promptly. 

Therefore, a document with the 7th edition staging rules for both clinical and pathologic classifications for melanoma has been added to the AJCC home page.

New AJCC T, N, and M categories will implemented in 2016. The primary considerations when assigning AJCC staging classifications is timeframe and criteria. The clinical staging (or classification) timeframe includes information obtained from the time of diagnosis throughout the diagnostic workup and ends at the initiation of definitive treatment. Within the clinical staging timeframe, criteria include physical exam, imaging, endoscopies, and diagnostic biopsies. It is important to emphasize that the mere existence of a pathology report that includes microscopic assessment does not exclude it from the clinical staging criteria. If the assessment was a part of the diagnostic workup, it has occurred within the clinical timeframe and can be used for clinical staging. Read the full article on the AJCC website

Please  review this information and the other educational resources available on the Registrar Presentations page of the AJCC website. 


NAPBC Best Practices Conference
Friday, May 13–Saturday, May 14
Orlando, FL

Join us May 13−14 at the B Resort and Spa in sunny Florida for the NAPBC Best Practices Conference.  This conference will showcase successful processes and tools of National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC)-accredited breast centers. Breast program leaders and care team members will share innovative and efficient methodologies that have been implemented in NAPBC-accredited programs across the country and will offer attendees tools for adoption of these best practices in their own centers.

Registration will open soon, but you can reserve your room and learn more details about the conference today.

News from the Oncology Community

APOS Celebrates 30 Years of Treating the Psychosocial Aspects of Cancer

The American Psychosocial Oncology Society (APOS) celebrates 30 years of addressing the psychological symptoms of people affected by cancer at its 13th annual conference March 4-5, 2016 at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina in San Diego, CA. 

In 1986, psychiatrist Jimmie C. Holland founded the Society to bring together healthcare professionals treating the psychological, behavioral and social aspects of cancer. Over the past 30 years, APOS has grown to include nurses, social workers, psychologists, counselors, clergy, oncologists, and psychiatrists working in the oncology subspecialty of psychosocial oncology, and has become a leader in psychosocial oncology research and clinical practice. 

Dr. Holland’s vision to treat psychological challenges in cancer patients began in the 1970s, and in 1984, the National Cancer Institute awarded its first epidemiologic research grant investigating the “psychosocial” effects of cancer on patients, families, and caregivers to a team comprised of Dr. Holland, nurse Ruth McCorkle, social worker Pat Fobair, social scientist Joan Bloom, and the late epidemiologist Bernard Fox.

APOS will celebrate its first 30 years Friday, March 4, 2016, from 6:30-8:00 pm with a reception and panel discussion with Dr. Holland, Dr. McCorkle, Dr. Bloom, Dr. William Worden, and Dr. Donna Greenberg, who worked with psychiatrist Dr. Avery Weisman on Project Omega, Massachusetts General Hospital’s seminal work examining psychosocial attributes of survival in cancer patients. This historic discussion will include a video interview with Dr. Weisman by Dr. Worden. This event is open to the public.

APOS’ 30th anniversary event takes place at the American Psychosocial Oncology Society’s 13th annual conference, featuring a keynote address by Otis W. Brawley, MD, chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society. The conference, with the theme “Psychosocial Cancer Care for All: Achieving Equity in Psychosocial Oncology,” will offer innovative scientific research and evidenced-based clinical interventions aimed at addressing inequalities in access to psychosocial oncology care and differences in the quality of treatment and treatment outcomes among ethnic, cultural, and racial minorities. Ethnic, cultural, and racial minorities, who comprise approximately 41% of the U.S. population and represent about 20% of cancer survivors, have unfavorable health outcomes, suffer greater cancer psychosocial burden, and are underserved and underrepresented in research and practice as participants, providers and researchers. 

APOS also offers pre-conference workshops and launches the inaugural Psychosocial Oncology Institute on March 3, 2016. In the full-day, interactive Institute, leaders in the psychosocial oncology field will teach core competencies in psychosocial oncology aimed at improving patient care in the oncology setting.

About the American Psychosocial Oncology Society (APOS)
APOS is the only multidisciplinary 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in the United States dedicated to the psychosocial aspects of cancer treatment. APOS membership consists of 475+ multidisciplinary practitioners and scientists from psychiatry, psychology, social work, nursing, oncology, clergy, patient advocacy, and social and behavioral health scientists who collaborate to apply clinical, translational, behavioral and psycho-oncological research in psychosocial oncology practice. 

Government to Launch Cancer Moonshot Initiative

During his 2016 State of the Union Address, President Obama called on Vice President Biden to lead a new, national “Moonshot” initiative to eliminate cancer as we know it.  Today, the White House is announcing a new $1 billion initiative to jumpstart this work.

The National Cancer Moonshot will work to accelerate current research efforts and break down barriers to progress by enhancing data access, and facilitating collaborations with researchers, doctors, philanthropies, patients, and patient advocates, and biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies.  The initiative aims to bring about a decade’s worth of advances in five years, making more therapies available to more patients, while also improving our ability to prevent cancer and detect it at an early stage.

Last week, the President took the first step in this effort, establishing a new Cancer Moonshot Task Force – to be led by the Vice President – to focus on making the most of Federal investments, targeted incentives, private sector efforts from industry and philanthropy, patient engagement initiatives, and other mechanisms to support cancer research and enable progress in treatment and care.

To read more, visit


Dr. Harold Freeman to Give Keynote Address at NCRA 2016
Freeman, MD, FACS, New York, NY, will deliver the keynote address at the National Cancer Registrars Association’s  (NCRA) 2016 annual conference Monday, April 11, at 8:00 am, at the Westgate Resort Hotel in Las Vegas, NV.  Dr. Freeman will examine Patient Navigation and the Impact on Healthcare. He pioneered the patient navigation concept and model that addresses disparities in access to treatment—particularly among poor and uninsured people. Dr. Freeman will provide a unique perspective.  

Three-Part Live Webinar Series on Thyroid Cancer
NCRA is offering a three-part webinar series on thyroid cancer that begins on March 9. The webinars include: 

  • “AJCC TNM Staging and Anatomy of Thyroid Cancer” presented by Earl Schuman, MD, on Tuesday, March 8, 2016, at 4:00 pm Eastern
  • “AJCC TNM Staging and Pathology of Thyroid Cancer” presented by Michelle Williams, MD, on Tuesday, March 15, 2016, at 2:00 pm Eastern
  • “AJCC TNM Staging and Treatment of Thyroid Cancer” presented by Paulette Zinkann, CTR, on Wednesday, March 30, 2016, at 2:00 pm Eastern 

Group discount pricing is available for six or more registrants. E-mail to learn more about group pricing. Visit the NCRA website to register for the webinars.  

Assigning AJCC TNM Stage and Coding NCI-SEER Summary Stage Available
NCRA focused its 2014 and 2015 live webinars on creating high-quality training on the general rules of the American Joint Council on Cancer’s AJCC tumor, node, and metastasis (TNM) Stage and National Cancer Institute Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program (NCI-SEER) Summary Stage as well as specific sites. NCRA has archived these webinars and created both a CD and an online product to provide registrars quick access to first-rate training on this important subject. Learn more about all of NCRA’s training to prepare registrars for the transition from CS to directly coded stage. 

NCRA's New Professional Liability Insurance Program
NCRA has partnered with CPH & Associates to provide a Professional Liability Insurance program. This new benefit offers NCRA members discounted rates for coverage, with limits of $1,000,000 each occurrence/$6,000,000 aggregate. Members can get an instant quote for coverage online and save 5 percent by applying online. Learn more about NCRA's new Professional Liability Insurance Program, including details on how to get started.