Provider standing with African American cancer patient

Every University of Maryland Cancer Network cancer center recently began implementing new standards for cancer care announced by the American College of Surgeon's Commission on Cancer.

Overall, the new standards:

  • Identify new ways to directly benefit patients with cancer.
  • Ensure measures that result in improved patient care.
  • Ensure centers are addressing the full spectrum of care.
  • Clarify or remove standards that don't achieve intended results.
  • Align standards with existing American College of Surgeons accreditation and verification programs.

"These new standards are evidence-based and will continue to improve (our) quality and patient care," says McKenzie E. Bedra, manager of clinical research/cancer registry at UM Baltimore Washington Medical Center's Tate Cancer Center.

Cancer centers must meet all commission standards to gain or retain accreditation. The UM Cancer Network's cancer centers are among the approximately 1,500 Commission on Cancer-accredited programs in the United States and Puerto Rico. That means all patients within the UM Cancer Network have access to exceptional, effective and safe care.

While the new standards are effective January 1, 2020, many will be phased in over the next two years, Bedra says. That means the commission will watch for progress toward the new, phased-in standards during 2021 surveys but will not evaluate centers on them until 2022.

Here's what you need to know about the new, phased-in standards.

Standard 4.2 Oncology Nursing Credentials

All registered and advanced nurses providing direct oncology care must secure 12 oncology-specific continuing education credits per year (36 throughout the three-year accreditation survey cycle). This includes nurses who do not have one of the following credentials:

  • Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse Practitioner (AOCNP®)
  • Advanced Oncology Certified Clinical Nurse Specialist (AOCNS®)
  • Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse (AOCN®)
  • Blood & Marrow Transplant Certified Nurse (BMTCN®)
  • Certified Pediatric Hematology Oncology Nurse (CPHON®)
  • Certified Pediatric Oncology Nurse (CPON®)
  • Certified Breast Care Nurse (CBCN®)
  • Oncology Certified Nurse (OCN®)

By having the most up-to-date education on oncology nursing, nurses can provide more effective, cutting-edge patient care, Bedra says.

4.8 Survivorship Program

The previous survivorship standard included delivery of a survivorship treatment summary and care plan. The new standard incorporates multiple services of a survivorship program, including the summaries, plans and the following:

  • Screening programs for cancer recurrence
  • Screening for new cancers
  • Seminars for survivors
  • Rehabilitation services
  • Nutritional services
  • Psychological support & psychiatric services
  • Support groups and services
  • Formalized referrals to experts in cardiology, pulmonary services, sexual dysfunction, fertility counseling
  • Financial support services
  • Physical activity programs

"Patients will now receive referrals to a comprehensive program and not just a care plan," Bedra says.

5.3 Breast Sentinel Node Biopsy, 5.4 Breast Axillary Dissection, 5.5 Primary Cutaneous Melanoma, and 5.6 Colon Resection

The commission developed these four standards to improve outcomes by reducing the variation in how surgeons perform cancer operations.

"They're basically tailoring the way surgeons have to dictate their operative reports to include American College of Surgeons elements listed in these new standards."

5.7 Total Mesorectal Excision and 5.8 Pulmonary Resection

Like standards 5.3 through 5.6, these new standards involve synoptic reporting and ensure providers follow College of American Pathologists protocol.

Give your patient the care that they deserve. Learn more about the commission's new standards or refer a patient to a UM Cancer Network cancer center.

About the UM Cancer Network

With the NCI-designated UM Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center as its hub, the UM Cancer Network offers patients access to nationally-renowned experts, cutting edge treatments and technologies, and the latest clinical trials. Learn more about the UM Cancer Network.