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

NAPBC Patient FAQs

What is an accredited breast center?

An accredited breast center is a center that provides comprehensive care that has met or exceeds quality standards established by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC). Each center with NAPBC accreditation has undergone a rigorous application process and onsite survey to ensure that it meets the criteria for 27 standards in such categories as leadership, clinical management, research, community outreach, professional education, and quality improvement. In addition, the NAPBC accredited center have documented that they provide 17 key components that contribute to high-quality patient care. Accredited centers voluntarily enter into an agreement to maintain their high level of clinical care with recertification required every three years. NAPBC accredited centers are among the leading organizations in their field and understand the benefits of a multidisciplinary approach to the evaluation and treatment of benign and malignant breast disease.

What is the NAPBC?

The NAPBC is administered by the American College of Surgeons, the professional organization that sets the standards of care for surgical patients. The NAPBC has established standards for breast care beyond surgery, as it represents 17 specialty societies and professional organizations involved in the care of breast cancer and breast disease, including radiation oncology, medical oncology, genetics, social work, and nursing. The increased specialization of breast cancer care calls for a multidisciplinary approach to care, and the nonprofit program was established to identify and recognize breast centers that provide such care.

How does a breast center become accredited?

Each NAPBC-accredited breast center undergoes a rigorous process of screening, site visits, and ongoing review. The centers have each been reviewed to ensure that they meet high standards for 17 key program components of quality care for breast disease:

  • interdisciplinary conference
  • data management
  • patient navigator
  • survivorship program
  • pathology
  • imaging
  • needle biopsy (core preferred)
  • surgical care
  • radiation oncology consultation/treatment
  • medical oncology consultation/treatment
  • nursing
  • genetic evaluation and management
  • education, support, and rehabilitation
  • plastic surgery consultation/treatment
  • research
  • outreach and education
  • quality improvement

NAPBC-accredited centers voluntarily enter into an agreement to maintain their high level of clinical care during the three-year accreditation period and undergo a site visit in order to receive recertification every three years.

What services does an accredited breast center provide?

NAPBC accredited centers embrace the entire spectrum of breast care, providing women with access to a range of Board-certified specialists, including breast surgeons, breast radiologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, breast pathologists, plastic reconstructive surgeons, genetic counselors, and psychosocial support professionals. Accredited centers also offer breast nurse navigators, patient education and support, palliative care programs, survivorship programs, and high-risk clinics. To be accredited, a breast center must provide all of these services in one setting or provide most of the services onsite and have referral processes in place for other services. However, whether provided or referred, the services must meet or exceed the standards written by the NAPBC Board.

What can I expect from an accredited breast center?

Women with breast disease/cancer who go to an NAPBC accredited breast center can expect timely, efficient, compassionate care throughout the entire spectrum of care, from physical examination and treatment to follow-up and survivorship. NAPBC accredited breast centers offer state-of-the-art services, with a multidisciplinary approach to coordinate the breast available treatment options.

Are NAPBC accredited breast centers located only in big cities?

No, you can find accredited centers all across the United States. More than 500 centers are currently accredited, and they are located in 48 states, including Alaska and Hawaii. Most accredited centers are hospital-based, but others are free-standing facilities, and some are based in private practices consisting of a variety of breast specialists. 

Find an NAPBC Accredited Center Near You

The center where I am being treated is not an accredited breast center; should I switch to an accredited center?

You may be receiving excellent care where you are already being treated. The NAPBC has no way of knowing the quality of care provided at a center unless the center applies for accreditation. NAPBC accreditation only began in 2008, so some centers may still be in the process of preparing for application or awaiting an onsite survey. In addition, some centers may not have the necessary time and/or resources for the rigorous application process. But that does not mean that the center is not providing high-quality care. Ask a member of your health care team to talk to you about your access to all of the necessary components of care.

How is NAPBC accreditation different from other types of accreditation I’ve heard about?

The Commission on Cancer (CoC), also administered by the American College of Surgeons, offers accreditation to facilities that have voluntarily committed to provide the best in cancer diagnosis and treatment, and is able to comply with established CoC standards. There are about 1,500 facilities in the United States with CoC accreditation. Approximately 93% of NAPBC-accredited breast centers are also accredited by the CoC. Cancer centers may also apply for National Cancer Institute (NCI) designation, which is different from accreditation. An NCI-designated cancer center is considered to be a major source for the discovery and development of more effective approaches to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer. There are 58 NCI-designated cancer centers in the United States that provide care to patients. The NAPBC is the first and only national accreditation program to set criteria specifically for breast disease.