The CoC Source - February 29, 2012
(Print All Articles)

2011 Year in Review

All Cancer Liaison Physicians in CoC-accredited cancer programs and CoC members, state chairs, surveyors, consultants, and CoC partner organizations recently received, through the U.S. Postal Service, the 2011 CoC Year in Review.  The publication highlights accomplishments and initiatives from the past year and includes a month-by-month retrospective review of the programs and services provided by the CoC to improve the quality of cancer care at the national, state, and local levels. A downloadable version is now available from the CoC News page on the CoC website at  Please download a copy and distribute it to your colleagues and cancer program staff.

New CoC Advocacy Workgroup

The CoC has established an Advocacy Workgroup, which includes CoC volunteers as well as staff from the CoC and American College of Surgeons Division of Advocacy and Health Policy. Chaired by Virginia Vaitones, MSW, OSW-C, from Penobscot Bay Medical Center in Rockport, ME, the workgroup strives to identify issues that the CoC, along with its consortium of 49 professional organizational members, can impact in support of the CoC’s mission, accreditation standards, and accredited cancer programs. The workgroup’s initial call took place in February when members spent time reviewing and prioritizing results from a survey conducted of CoC-accredited cancer programs that sought to identify current and future issues that either might impact their cancer program’s ability to deliver high-quality cancer care, or that the programs would like the CoC to advance on their behalf. The survey was disseminated in early January to cancer committee chairs and cancer program administrators in 1,500 CoC-accredited cancer programs, and 204 responses were received.

Major findings:

1.     Issues of concern to your cancer program

  • 150—oncology drug shortage
  • 125—payment/reimbursement for oral chemotherapy
  • 105—access to care
  • 60—oncology workforce issues

2.    Priorities the CoC should advance

  • 160—reimbursement of patient navigation
  • 160—endorsement by payers/policymakers that CoC reporting tools can be used to satisfy pay-for-performance initiatives in oncology
  • 145—recognition by payers/policymakers that accreditation ensures compliance with evidence-based medicine and reduces variations in care, complications, and preventable costs
  • 140—reimbursement for prevention activities
  • 140—reimbursement for clinical trials

3.    Regarding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, 115 programs reported that the provisions in it will have a positive impact on their patients; however, 70 of these programs expressed concern about specific components of the Act. Sixty programs reported that the provisions will have a negative impact on their cancer patients.

Our thanks to all of those cancer committee chairs and cancer program administrators from our accredited programs who took the time to complete the survey. As the workgroup continues to prioritize the survey results and identify emerging advocacy and legislative issues where the CoC could have the greatest impact, we will continue to keep the CoC constituency apprised of their efforts. Questions can be directed to Connie Bura at the CoC at   

CoC Announces Collaboration with ASCO and LIVESTRONG

The CoC announces its collaborative partnership with the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and LIVESTRONG in support of the Focus Under FortyTM curriculum. The goal of this eLearning curriculum is to shed light on the unique biological and care issues that are associated with cancer patients between the ages of 15 and 39. To learn more about the available CME opportunities, please visit Focus Under Forty. To access the eLearning courses, an ASCO account is required; nonmembers of ASCO may create a free account at: Create ASCO Guest Account.

ProvenCare® Lung Cancer Collaborative

In August 2011, we reported on the activities of the ProvenCare® Lung Cancer Collaborative initiated in July 2009 with six CoC-accredited facilities:

  • Duke Raleigh Hospital, Raleigh, NC
  • Geisinger Health System, Danville, PA
  • Kern Medical Center, Bakersfield, CA
  • NorthShore University Health System, Evanston, IL
  • Northwestern University Medical Center, Chicago, IL
  • University of Washington Medical Center,Seattle, WA

This pilot is intended to demonstrate that reliable delivery of evidence-based care is feasible for lung cancer surgery in a multi-institutional setting and that such a program can result in improved patient outcomes, reduced complications, and reduced cost. More than 400 patients have been accrued to the study thus far with the goal set at 1,000 patients for initial analysis. To reach that target sooner, an application process was initiated last August to identify additional teams that meet the necessary criteria to join the pilot. The following seven CoC-accredited facilities were selected to participate in the Phase II pilot and received their initial training in February 2012:

  • Baystate Medical Center, Springfield, MA
  • Stony Brook University Medical Center, Stony Brook, NY
  • Sinai Hospital of Baltimore, Baltimore, MD
  • Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA
  • UMass Memorial Health Care, Worcester, MA
  • Providence Health & Services, Portland, OR
  • Providence Regional Medical Center, Everett, WA

The Phase II teams will work over the next six months to modify their internal processes to deliver the 38 elements of care defined by the Collaborative to standardize the care they provide to their surgically treated lung cancer patients. Data entry for the Phase II teams will commence on August 1, 2012. We will continue to keep you updated on the progress of the Phase I and II teams. For more information about the project, access the July 2011 online version of CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians for the article “ProvenCare Lung Cancer: A Multi-Institutional Improvement Collaborative.” For more information, contact Connie Bura at  

American College of Surgeons Clinical Research Program

Last year the American College of Surgeons Oncology Group, North Central Cancer Treatment Group, and the Cancer and Leukemia Group B merged to form a new NCI-funded cooperative group, the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology (Alliance). Surgeons involved in cancer clinical trials and those interested in becoming involved in playing a more active role in the new Alliance are encouraged to visit the Alliance website,, to learn more about the new group.

The Alliance has five components, including a new program component called the American College of Surgeons Clinical Research Program (ACS CRP). The ACS CRP will work to reduce the impact of cancer by validating and disseminating effective strategies for the prevention and treatment of cancer. The program will plan to achieve their mission by increasing surgeon participation in the Alliance and by increasing meaningful interactions among the Alliance, the American College of Surgeons, and its cancer programs. Four committees have been formed to support the ACS CRP. They include the Member Services Committee, charged with engaging a broad oncology community in cancer clinical trials; the Education Committee, charged with reducing the time from trials reporting to practice implementation; the Cancer Care Standards Development Committee, charged with developing “best cancer practices” and standardizing cancer practices across the Alliance and the ACS cancer programs; and the Research Development Committee, charged with creating novel research in comparative effectiveness and emerging technologies. More information about the activities of the ACS CRP will be shared in future issues of the CoC Flash. Questions? Contact Carla Amato-Martz, ACS CRP Manager, at

2012 Pre-Survey Documentation

Surveys done in 2012 will review 2009, 2010, and 2011 cancer program activity. Documentation of cancer program activity must be provided to the surveyor before the onsite visit. Upload documents to the Survey Application Record (SAR) through the link, ‘Survey Documentation’, located on the SAR Menu, a minimum of two weeks before the on-site visit (following the Cancer Program Standards 2009 Revised Edition):

  • Cancer committee/leadership body minutes from 2009, 2010, and 2011
    • Include only those attachments that apply to the compliance of standards.
  • Certificate of accreditation or letter from the accrediting body (Standard 1.1)
  • Section of bylaws related to the cancer committee (Standard 2.1)
  • Policy and procedure on cancer conference/tumor board criteria (Standards 2.6, 2.7, 2.8)
  • Cancer conference/tumor board grid from 2009, 2010, and 2011 (Standard 2.9)
  • QC Review Plan or policy (Standard 2.10)
  • Outcomes analysis studies or annual reports completed in 2009, 2010, and 2011 (Standard 2.11)
  • Follow-up reports from day of survey (Standards 3.4, 3.5)
  • Written process for monitoring staging, prognostic factors, and national treatment guidelines (Standard 4.3)
  • Documentation of educational activities for 2009, 2010, and 2011, including; posting/announcement, agenda, objectives, and attendance sheets (Standard 7.1)
  • Quality studies completed in 2009, 2010, and 2011 (Standard  8.1)
  • Accession lists from 2009 and 2011 (2nd, 3rd, and 4th quarters)
    • Lists to include accession number, site, class of case, and procedure. Patient names are to be excluded.
    • NEW programs will confirm year of review with Karen Stachon, Cancer Program Advisor, when released for initial survey.
  • Final agenda (as agreed upon between surveyor and facility)

The surveyor will review additional information as appropriate at the facility on the day of survey. Paper documents will NOT be accepted for surveys, appeals, or deficiency resolutions.

2012 Survey Resources Now Available

Online resources have been updated to assist with 2012 surveys and Survey Application Record (SAR) preparations. Information is based on the Cancer Program Standards 2009 Revised Edition.

The resources are available on the “Programs Currently Accredited” page of the Cancer website at and through the “SAR Reference Guides” link located on the Datalinks activity menu. The updated resources include:

  • 2012 SAR Tips—describe the various SAR fields and tables
  • 2012 SAR Documentation FAQ—answers typical SAR questions
  • 2012 Pre-Survey Documentation—describes the documents that are required to be uploaded two weeks before survey

Other updated resources, located under “Post-Survey Information” from the “Programs Currently Accredited” page of the Cancer website at, include:

  • Appealing the Accreditation Award—explains the appeal process (30 days)
  • Deficiency Resolution Documentation—explains what documentation is needed to submit for resolution (also available on Datalinks activity menu)

It is recommended that appropriate cancer team members (involved in survey preparation, SAR and Tracking Activity SAR completion, and coordinating submissions of appeals and/or deficiency resolutions) review the updated resources to have a better understanding of what is required to prepare and submit information to the Commission on Cancer.

CoC Introduces Web Pages Specific to Programs Seeking Initial Accreditation

The CoC recently launched a new resource for programs seeking accreditation for the first time.  Multiple tools to facilitate preparation for initial accreditation can be found by using the “hot button” on the CoC Home Page.  Follow the link to information that addresses questions about CoC-accreditation from new programs including basic eligibility requirements, an FAQ document, a reference document called “Steps Toward Achieving Accreditation,” as well as a copy of the most recent manual Cancer Program Standards 2012: Ensuring Patient Centered Care.  Programs are encouraged to begin the application process once the program has been cancer committee-directed for a minimum of six months.  The application will validate the program’s reference date, eligibility criteria E1-E12, including two complete years of abstracted data and one year of follow up, selection of a CoC-trained Consultant and confirmation of a consultative evaluation.  Completion of the online application and payment of the application fee will serve as formal notification of a program’s intent to seek initial accreditation.  Please visit the CoC Home Page or use this direct link to access the new web pages.

Highlighting the 2012 Standards – Chapter 2: Clinical Services

The next group of standards highlighted from the Clinical Services chapter includes services that educate individuals concerning the risks of developing cancer and optimizing the quality of life.

Standard 2.3: Risk Assessment and Genetic Counseling

Patients are provided services for cancer risk assessment, genetic counseling, and testing services either on-site or by referral.

The cancer committee defines who provides risk assessment and genetic counseling for the most frequent sites of cancer seen at the facility. Cancer genetics professionals perform the assessment and counseling, including both pretest and posttest counseling. Patient risk is examined based on a family pedigree and where patients are tested and informed about their chance of developing cancers. Both the pedigree and test results help patients become more educated about their cancer risk as well as make more informed decisions about their cancer health and prevention.

A genetics professional has experience and an educational background in genetics, cancer genetics, counseling, and hereditary cancer syndromes to provide accurate risk assessment and empathetic genetic counseling to patients with cancer and their families. Genetics professionals include people certified in any of the following ways:

  • American Board of Genetic Counseling or American Board of Medical Genetics board certified/board eligible or a licensed genetic counselor
  • American College of Medical Genetics physician board certified in medical genetics
  • Genetics Clinical Nurse or Advanced Practice Nurse in Genetics
  • Advanced practice oncology nurse who is prepared at the graduate level with specialized education in cancer genetics and hereditary cancer predispostition syndromes
  • Board-certified physician with experience in cancer genetics

Documentation includes completion of the SAR and a discussion with the surveyor regarding the on-site or referral process for providing cancer risk assessment and genetic counseling services.

Compliance for this standard is demonstrated by the provision of cancer risk assessment, genetic counseling, and testing services, either on-site or by referral, by a qualified genetics professional.

Standard 2.4: Palliative Care Services

Palliative care services are available to patients either on-site or by referral.

Palliative care services are an essential component of cancer care that goes beyond hospice or end of life care. Palliative care starts with the diagnosis of cancer and continues through bereavement. Palliative care optimizes quality of life by confronting the anticipation, prevention, and treatment of suffering of patients with cancer. On-site services may vary based on the scope of the program, staff expertise, and the patient population.

Palliative care services can include team-based care planning, pain and nonpain symptom management, communication, continuity of care across a range of clinical settings and services, spiritual comfort, psychosocial support, bereavement support, and hospice care.

When palliative care is offered on-site, a member of the interdisciplinary palliative care team is a member of the cancer committee. At least one physician and one non-physician are recommended to be part of the team. Team members might include a board certification physician in hospice and palliative medicine, a certified hospice nurse, a social worker, a mental health clinician, a pharmacist, a chaplain or spiritual care counselor, or a trained volunteer.

This standard lists exceptions for National Center to Improve Practice categories so please review the manual to obtain more specific information.

Documentation includes completion of the Survey Application Record and a discussion with the surveyor regarding the on-site or referral process for providing palliative care services.

Compliance for this standard is demonstrated by the provision of palliative care services, either on-site or by referral.

In summary, these two standards outline important patient-centered services that are essential for patients with cancer. The Commission on Cancer-accredited program can provide these services, either on-site or by referral by health care providers with knowledge and experience in genetic counseling or palliative care/symptom management.

Next month: Chapter 3: Continuum of Care Services




CLP Webinars Are Now Easier to Access

In an effort to facilitate access to the CLP webinars, the access code for checking out a webinar has been eliminated. Users can now simply register for the webinar—free of charge—without the code. Detailed instructions on accessing the webinars are available on the CLP Information Board at

If you have not already done so, please be sure to take the time to complete the webinar series. Learn to navigate the NCDB reporting tools and how to interpret the data in plenty of time for your first cancer committee meeting. The webinars are located on the CoC Online Education Portal at

CLP Webinar Series

The Cancer Liaison Physician (CLP) webinar series consists of five webinars, the last of which is featured here.

The practical, 11-minute presentation, Analyzing and Reporting Your Cancer Program's Quality Data, provides the CLP with ideas for using the National Cancer Data Base (NCDB) quality reporting tools to report to their cancer committee. The program provides useful suggestions for queries that the CLP may pose to the cancer committee to jumpstart a discussion of program and practice trends and their impact on patient care in the program. Specific suggestions include how to use the NCDB reports to promote the cancer program and how to use the Hospital Benchmark Reports to identify patient migration patterns.

You can access this webinar through the CoC Online Education Portal at Additional required CLP webinars on the Portal include the following topics:

  • Orientation to the Cancer Liaison Physician Role: Focus on Improving the Quality of Cancer Care (13 minutes)
  • Becoming an American Cancer Society Liaison (8 minutes)
  • How to Navigate the National Cancer Data Base Tools: A Primer (12 minutes)
  • Putting the National Cancer Data Base Tools to Work (17 minutes)

The webinar series should be completed as soon as possible so you can begin implementing the requirements of Standard 4.3, Cancer Liaison Physician Responsibilities.

There is no longer an access code for the webinars. You can simply log into the CoC Online Education Portal to register for the webinar and check it out. If you have already registered for the webinar, it is archived in “Your Account” and can be accessed from there.

Questions on the webinar series can be directed to

A Cancer Doctor and 18 Survivors Share a Transforming Journey

Shortly after the start of 2012, seven men and 11 women, ages 29 to 73, all survivors of breast cancer, prostate cancer, thyroid cancer, salivary gland cancer, lymphoma, and leukemia, embarked on a journey to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. They were accompanied by Richard Deming, MD, long-time American Cancer Society (ACS) volunteer, founder and chair of Above + Beyond Cancer, and medical director of Mercy Cancer Center in Des Moines, IA, where he serves as a Commission on Cancer (CoC) Cancer Liaison Physician. Dr. Deming wrote about his experience on the ACS’ The Road to More Birthdays Blog. You can read about the group’s remarkable journey at

Call for Data Reminders

The deadline for making corrections or updates to cases submitted for this year’s National Cancer Data Base (NCDB) Call for Data is 12:00 midnight (CST), April 1, 2012. This includes:

  • corrections for Data Quality Errors for cases diagnosed 2003 through 2010 for compliance with Standard 5.6
  • corrections for Rejected Records for any diagnosis year (unless the rejection was for a case diagnosed prior to the program’s Reference Date or due to inadvertent submission of a nonanalytic case)
  • any revisions that the program wants included in the Level II Site by Stage reports or in the next update of Benchmark, Survival, or CP3R reports

Except as described above, it is not necessary to resubmit cases that were changed after the case was submitted to NCDB in January 2012. Recently updated cases will automatically be selected for submission next January 2013.

Initial Level II reports will be available as soon as all 2010 diagnoses received during January have been processed. Benchmark, Survival, and CP3R reports will be updated to include 2010 diagnoses submitted through the end of the Call for Data deadline, April 1, 2012, by summer.

The NCDB will be closed for routine submissions after April 1. A word to the wise: Please do not wait until the last minute to submit your corrections.

Survey Savvy: 2012 Patient-Centered Standards

This year’s Survey Savvy conference, taking place this March in Chicago, is full and registration has closed. The next Survey Savvy will be held in 2013, dates and location are yet to be determined.  Until then, please utilize the new 2012 Standards webinar series for your Standards education needs found on the CoC Online Education Portal at

Learn More on the New 2012 CoC Patient-Centered Standards

Visit the CoC Online Education Portal at to access the latest webinars covering the new 2012 CoC Patient-Centered Standards. There are currently 12 new titles with more under development to launch in Spring and Summer 2012.  New titles include:

•Cancer Clinical Trials
On-Demand Webinar Click Here to Register

•Cancer Program Standards 2012 Chapter 1: Focus on Roles and Responsibilities of the Cancer Committee
On-Demand Webinar Click Here to Register

•Eligibility Requirements: The Cancer Committee's Role in Evaluation and Reporting
On-Demand Webinar Click Here to Register

•2012 and Beyond: The Survey Process
On-Demand Webinar Click Here to Register

•Studies of Quality and Quality Improvements
On-Demand Webinar Click Here to Register

•Quality of Patient Care: New CoC Standards
On-Demand Webinar Click Here to Register

•Important Accreditation Facts: New Program Categories, Accreditation Awards, and the OAA
On-Demand Webinar Click Here to Register

•Cancer Program Standards 2012 Continuum of Care Services: Focus on Survivorship Care Plans
On-Demand Webinar Click Here to Register

•Assuring a High-Quality Registry to Support Patient-Centered Care
On-Demand Webinar Click Here to Register

•Cancer Program Standards 2012 Continuum of Care Services: Focus on Psychosocial Distress Screening, Tools and Resources
On-Demand Webinar Click Here to Register

•Cancer Program Standards 2012: Clinical Services: Focus on Palliative Care Services
On-Demand Webinar Click Here to Register

•Cancer Risk Assessment and Genetic Testing
On-Demand Webinar Click Here to Register


NAPBC Developing Data Collection Standard for 2012

NAPBC Standard 6.2 – Quality Improvement will require reporting annual aggregate performance levels for six measures that have been identified by the NAPBC Quality Improvement and Information Technology Committee beginning in mid-2012.  A data collection page will be added to the Survey Application Record (SAR) that will require all NAPBC-accredited breast centers, and centers applying for accreditation, to enter this information on an annual basis.

The six quality measures are outlined below:  




Radiation therapy is administered within 1 year (365 days) of diagnosis for women under age 70 receiving breast conserving surgery for breast cancer.


Combination chemotherapy is considered or administered within 4 months (120 days) of diagnosis for women under the age of 70 with AJCC T1c, Stage II or III hormone receptor negative breast cancer.


Tamoxifen or third generation aromatase inhibitor is considered or administered within 1 year (365 days) of diagnosis for women with AJCC T1c, Stage II or III hormone receptor positive breast cancer.


Needle/core biopsy is performed prior to surgical treatment of breast cancer.


Breast conservation surgery rate for women with AJCC Stage 0, I or II breast cancer.


Radiation therapy is considered or administered within 1 year (365 days) of diagnosis for women undergoing mastectomy for breast cancer with four or more positive regional lymph nodes. 

The surveyor will confirm compliance with this standard during the medical record review portion of the on-site visit.

The NAPBC SAR data collection page will be pilot-tested in early 2012 and rolled out to all accredited centers and centers applying for NAPBC accreditation by mid-2012. Additional educational resources will be made available prior to implementation. This standard is also discussed extensively at the NAPBC Workshop – Pursuing Excellence through Accreditation.

Back by Popular Demand – Pursuing Excellence through Accreditation

Due to numerous requests, the National Accreditation Program of Breast Centers (NAPBC) has scheduled another workshop, Pursuing Excellence through Accreditation,which will be held at the American College of Surgeons headquarters in Chicago, IL, on Friday, June 29, 2012. This workshop will provide detailed information related to the NAPBC components and standards, survey process, and the new quality measures and related requirements. Attendance at this workshop will assist centers applying for accreditation, as well as centers due for reaccreditation in 2012 and beyond.  

NAPBC board members, surveyors, and staff will offer detailed information, including subjects specific to the NAPBC components and standards, including an outline of the requirements in order to meet compliance with each standard. The workshop will also incorporate any changes to the standards so that there is a clear understanding of what is expected and how it will be measured. Another presentation titled What to Expect on the Day of Survey will walk you through a site visit from a surveyor perspective. Learn about what the surveyor is looking for during different aspects of the survey.    

Pursuing Excellence through Accreditation is designed for individuals involved in the delivery of multidisciplinary breast health care, including physicians, nurses, administrators, cancer registry professionals, and others involved in the day-to-day operations of the breast center.

Contact the NAPBC at or 312-202-5185 to be notified when the workshop brochure is available and when the online registration link is ready to accept registration.   

These workshops are always well-attended and seating is limited. Enrollment is on a first come, first-served basis.

NAPBC Exhibit Schedule

The NAPBC is scheduled to exhibit at the following national meetings in 2012:

National Consortium of Breast Centers
March 10-14, 2012

Planet Hollywood Casino and Resort
Las Vegas, NV

American Society of Breast Disease
April 12–14, 2012
Four Seasons Resort
Dallas, TX

American Society of Breast Surgeons
May 2–6, 2012
JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort and Spa
Phoenix, AZ

Stop by the exhibit hall at any one of these meetings and pick up an NAPBC Information Kit or additional information about the program.


Earn up to 20 CEs at NCRA’s Annual Educational Conference

The National Cancer Registrars Association (NCRA) will hold its annual educational conference April 18–21, 2012, at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, which is located just outside Washington, DC. The educational sessions will provide the training needed to keep cancer registrars up to date with changes in the industry. Sessions are organized into four topic areas: central registry, hospital registry, professional development, and informatics.

Session highlights include: 

  • National Accreditation Program of Breast Centers (NAPBC) Quality Measure Development and Data Collection Initiative—Presenter: Cindy Burgin

  • What to Expect at Your NAPBC Survey—Presenter: Cindy Burgin

  • The 411 on Site-Specific Factors—Why We Need Them, What They Tell Us, and Where to Find the Information—Presenter: Mary Kay Washington, MD, PhD

  • CSv2 Reliability Study Results: CDC/NPCR, NCI/SEER, ACOS/CoC, and Canadian Perspective—Presenter: Lynda Douglas, CTR

  • 2012 Commission on Cancer Best Practice Repository: Why Re-Invent the Wheel?—Presenters: Cynthia Boudreaux, LPN, CTR, and Lisa Landvogt, CTR

  • So… Who Are the Key Players in Your Cancer Program?—Presenter: Lisa Landvogt, CTR

  • FAQs from the CAnswer Forum—Presenters: Cynthia Boudreaux, LPN, CTR; April Fritz, RHIT, CTR; Donna Gress, RHIT, CCS, CTR; and Jennifer Ruhl, BBA, RHIT, CCS, CTR

  • Interactive Discussion of Part One CS Coding Instructions: Working the Cases—Presenters:  April Fritz, Donna Gress, and Jennifer Ruhl

  • Update from the Surveillance Summit Work Groups—Presenter: Brenda Edwards, PhD

To learn more and register, go to

Hotel Is Selling Out!

NCRA has negotiated with the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center for a single/double sleeping room rate of $199. The hotel is selling out quickly, so please make your reservations. You can book online at or call 301-965-4000 and reference the group code A-AEC12 to reserve your room. 

Need a Letter-of-Support to Attend NCRA 2012?

NCRA reaches out to administrators to help cancer registry staff attend its annual educational conference. The letter-of-support highlights the value and importance of attending the conference. NCRA needs your help in identifying who should receive this important letter on your behalf. The letter is not limited to hospital facilities. Any NCRA member who thinks they would benefit from such support (hospital, central, federal, service provider, or vendor) is encouraged to provide contact information at:

Distress Screening: Seeking Pilot Sites for Meeting Standard 3.2

The significance of psychosocial factors in cancer care is now widely accepted in the cancer field and affirmed by the Institute of Medicine. In fact, screening cancer patients for psychosocial distress is a key component of recommendations in the IOM’s 2007 report, Cancer Care for the Whole Patient: Meeting Psychosocial Health Needs. The Cancer Support Community (CSC) has joined with the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer to support the development of the new Cancer Program Standards 2012: Ensuring Patient-Centered Care. The new standards ensure that every person treated in an accredited program receives key elements of quality care through diagnosis, treatment, and beyond, including distress screening and psychosocial care. Available screening tools include a range from free pen-and-paper screeners to computerized measures that can provide not only valuable feedback for patient care but also vital data to help cancer programs with program development, staffing, and resource allocation. Each institution needs to assess its goals related to distress screening, available resources, and the level of integration needed to streamline and improve care.

Moving these screening requirements into practice, the CSC has developed CancerSupportSource™ (CSS), the first validated distress screening program developed for community-based hospitals, physician practices, and advocacy organizations that fully integrates screening, referral, and follow-up. Through a single, streamlined, web-based program, CSS helps health care providers meet these critical standards easily, effectively, and affordably. Key features of the program include:

  • Screening—Completed by the patient in about 10 minutes on any computer or tablet with a standard browser either at home or in the office or clinic. This tool, covering 25 items, identifies specific areas of patient concern and asks the patient to identify what kind of help they need (written or online information, talk with a staff person, or no help needed).
  • Personal Support Care Plan—Generated instantly for the patient with issue-driven referrals for online and community support services and resource fact sheets. This plan can be e-mailed or printed and customized for any geography.
  • Clinician’s Report—Sent directly to the health care team, including a summary of a patient’s results, red flags, and actionable clinical alerts.
  • Capacity for Customization—Several levels of customization are available, including linking to the electronic health record via an HL7 and Web service interface. 

CancerSupportSource has completed validation and is undergoing beta-testing at multiple sites, including small oncology practices and large community hospitals. To learn more about CSS, including how your institution can immediately become a pilot site and pricing information, please contact Vicki Kennedy at, call 202-650-5379, or visit

Monthly Spotlight: The National Cancer Institute’s SEER Program and the Applied Research Program

The Commission on Cancer regularly collaborates with over 50 member organizations in its mission to provide quality cancer care. This month we introduce The National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program and the Applied Research Program.

The National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences manages several complex programs designed to measure the national burden of cancer in the U.S. and its impact on individuals and society. The Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program collects and publishes data from cancer registries covering 28 percent of the U.S. population. SEER works with its surveillance partners to achieve data content and compatibility acceptable for pooling data and improving national estimates, and Web-based access to the data and analytic tools. Use of surveillance data for research is being improved through linkage with other national data sources, notably creation and maintenance of the SEER-Medicare databases []. SEER has added other data linkages to improve the depth and accuracy of information. The SEER-Medicare Health Outcomes Survey Linked Database [SEER-MHOS;] combines SEER with data from the MHOS, a source of information about the health-related quality of life (HRQOL) of Medicare Advantage Organization (MAO) enrollees. The project is a collaboration among NCI, the SEER registries, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS), and two private organizations that provide technical assistance. CMS conducts the survey annually and invites approximately 1,000 randomly selected Medicare enrollees in each of 160 to 320 managed health plans to participate. The response rates are high, and participants who complete a baseline survey receive a follow-up survey every two years from CMS.

Over the years, SEER has pushed its new data management system out to the registries to improve the efficiency of data collection and reporting. The system was able to process data received by the central registries with relatively short lead times following major changes in data requirements, such as the Collaborative Stage Data Collection System effective in 2010. The use of electronic pathology records for case-finding is a standard operating procedure; electronic pathology records now outnumber manual pathology cases by almost 2:1.

Upcoming Publications and/or Products:

The SEER Program will issue new data in the following formats on April 15, available on the SEER website:

  • The SEER Cancer Statistics Review 1975–2009
  • SEER*Stat: 1978–2009 SEER Data
  • SEER Cancer Statistics Fact Sheets

For more information on this organization, please contact:
Phone: 301-496-8510 | Fax: 301-496-9949

E-mail: |