CSC Contributes to a Landmark National Effort to Make Cancer Care Patient-Centered

WASHINGTON DC, August 31, 2011 – The Cancer Support Community (CSC) has contributed to a new national effort to make cancer care more centered on the concerns and emotional well-being of patients. CSC is one of four cancer patient support/advocacy organizations that contributed strong input into developing new cancer program standards for the delivery of “patient-centered care.” These 2012 standards have just been released by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer to the more than 1,500 hospital cancer programs that it accredits in the United States and Puerto Rico. These accredited programs represent only 30 percent of institutions nationwide but treat more than 70 percent of all newly diagnosed cancer patients annually.

"The changing landscape of cancer patient care motivated us to develop new standards to directly address patient concerns," said Stephen Edge, MD, FACS, Chair of the Commission on Cancer, a consortium of more than 47 professional cancer organizations. "These standards enhance the focus of care so that it is much more than a defined structure of clinical treatment." 

“CSC fully endorses the Commission on Cancer’s new patient-centered standards for accreditation" said the organization's President & CEO, Kim Thiboldeaux. "Implementation of these standards in the coming years will significantly enhance the quality of care available through institutions accredited by the ACOS. CSC has long been a champion of distress screening at critical stages along a person’s cancer journey and, as a leader in the field of psychosocial support, we are particularly thrilled with the Commission’s adoption of a standard requiring that all patients be screened for psychosocial distress."

The new patient-centered standards will better enable cancer patients to work with their interdisciplinary cancer treatment team and become partners in their own care.  Family members are also welcome participants in the process.

These advocacy group contributions are reflected in three key areas of patient-centered treatment and include:  

  • A patient navigation process to address health care disparities and barriers
    to care.
  • Screening patients for psychosocial distress.
  • A survivorship care plan that documents care received and seeks to improve cancer survivors' quality of life.

In addition to CSC, the three other patient support/advocacy organizations that are members of the CoC, and provided key input into the development of these standards include the American Cancer Society, the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, and LIVESTRONG. Each organization contributed input on how patient-centered  standards could be implemented into the framework of CoC-accredited cancer programs.  

Additional new patient-centered standards have been developed that require accredited programs to offer patients palliative care (either on site or by referral) and genetic services (either on site or by referral by a qualified genetics professional).

Promoting the highest level of quality cancer care has always been the foundation for Commission on Cancer standards, and the new 2012 standards contain new quality requirements.  Of particular note is a new standard that requires CoC programs to reach specific performance levels on measuring quality for treating patients with breast, colon, and rectal cancers.  These “quality measures” are defined by the Commission on Cancer and endorsed by the National Quality Forum.  The CoC, through its National Cancer Data Base (NCDB), has the only system available in the United States to apply these quality measures and feed data back to its programs to evaluate how they are performing.  This system in turn allows them to develop a cancer care program that renders care along a continuum of continuous quality improvement.

“The 2012 CoC standards challenge cancer programs to enhance the care they provide  by addressing patient-centered needs and measuring the quality of the care they deliver against national standards.  Both areas are critical components of quality cancer care,” explained Daniel P. McKellar, MD, FACS, who chairs the CoC’s Accreditation Committee.

The Commission on Cancer revises its standards every five to seven years.  While the new patient-centered approach is now a required part of the standards, “we recognize that cancer programs may not immediately have all of these elements in place, and are allowing  them to be phased in,” said Dr. Edge.  “However, we do expect phase-in efforts to move along quickly, and CoC programs will derive great benefit from the support of the four leading national cancer advocacy groups that have been such valuable contributors to our efforts in promoting patient-centered cancer care.” 

"As providers of the highest quality support for cancer patients and their loved ones," said Thiboldeaux "CSC will support implementation of these new standards by continuing to make support services available through our network of professionally led community-based centers, hospitals, community oncology practices as well as online, so that no one has to face cancer alone."

To view the full release, distributed by the American College of Surgeons on 8/31/11, visit

To access a copy of the Cancer Program Standards 2012: Ensuring Patient-Centered Care or to find a Commission on Cancer accredited hospital near home, visit:


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