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Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas

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American College of Surgeons Grants Approval Award with Commendation to Houston VA Cancer Program

June 27, 2007

HOUSTON – On June 15, 2007, the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons granted a three-year approval award with commendation to the cancer program at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (MEDVAMC).

Established by the American College of Surgeons in 1932, the Approvals Program sets standards for cancer programs and reviews the programs to ensure they conform to those standards. Recognizing cancer is a complex group of diseases, the program promotes consultation among surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, diagnostic radiologists, pathologists, and other cancer specialists. This multidisciplinary cooperation results in improved patient care.

According to the American Cancer Society, more than one million people are diagnosed with cancer each year. Slightly more than one-fifth of the country’s hospitals have approved cancer programs and more than 80 percent of patients who are newly diagnosed with cancer are treated in these facilities.

Approval by the Commission on Cancer is given only to those facilities that have voluntarily committed to provide the best in diagnosis and treatment of cancer and to undergo a rigorous evaluation process and a review of its performance. In order to maintain approval, facilities with approved cancer programs must undergo an on-site review every three years. Commendation rating is awarded to only a select group of approved programs displaying an extraordinary level of quality and performance. MEDVAMC is one of the few VA programs nationwide that earned the commendation rating.   

The five key elements needed for the success of a Commission-approved cancer program are 1) the clinical services provide state-of-the-art pre-treatment evaluation, staging, treatment, and clinical follow-up for cancer patients seen at the facility for primary, secondary, tertiary, or quaternary care; 2) the cancer committee leads the program through setting goals, monitoring activity, evaluating patient outcomes, and improving care; 3) the cancer conferences provide a forum for patient consultation and contribute to physician education; 4) the quality improvement program is the mechanism for evaluating and improving patient outcomes; and 5) the cancer registry and database is the basis for monitoring the quality of care.

Receiving care at a cancer program approved by the Commission on Cancer ensures a patient will have access to quality care close to home; comprehensive care that includes a range of state-of-the art services and equipment; a multi-specialty team approach to coordinate the best treatment options available to cancer patients; information about cancer clinical trials, education, and support; lifelong patient follow-up through a cancer registry collecting data on type and stage of cancers and treatment results; and ongoing monitoring and improvement of care.

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