Cancer Program Earns Accreditation and Commendation from Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons

TUCSON, Ariz. – The cancer program at Banner – University Medical Center Tucson has been granted three-year accreditation with commendation by the Commission on Cancer (CoC), a quality program of the American College of Surgeons. 

Staffed by the world-class cancer specialists of the University of Arizona Cancer Center, Banner – UMC Tucson’s oncology program is the only cancer program in Southern Arizona with this elite accreditation, and one of only seven statewide. 

“It has been approximately 20 years since there was a CoC-accredited program here,” wrote the commission surveyor in his evaluation following an on-site inspection in the fall. “The leadership of Banner and the University have committed to seeking and succeeding as a CoC-accredited program. They do not accept half-way measures in anything they do. The enthusiasm that emanates from them is infectious.” 

To quality for voluntary CoC accreditation, a cancer program must meet 34 quality standards, be evaluated every three years through a survey process, and maintain levels of excellence in the delivery of comprehensive patient-centered care from prevention, early diagnosis, cancer staging, optimal treatment, rehabilitation, life-long follow-up for recurrent disease and end-of-life care.

“I think what cancer patients and their families need to know about this accreditation is that it’s an indicator of quality care for the entire cancer journey,” said clinical practice administrator Patti Stumbo, RN. “We are with our patients every step of the way.” 

For example, she said Banner – UMC has hired seven cancer nurse-navigators in the past 18 months to provide hands-on guidance to patients through the often bewildering medical experience of a cancer diagnosis. 

“Before patients even meet with a physician, the nurse navigators are there to help them understand the process and consider their options. They provide support at the beginning, through treatment and after they leave our cancer center,” Stumbo said.

“We are excited to be recognized by the Commission on Cancer. We are the only cancer program in the State of Arizona to be an NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center and CoC accredited,” said Emad Elquza, MD, executive medical director of clinical oncology services at Banner – UMC Tucson as well as associate director of clinical services at the UA Cancer Center.

CoC-accredited cancer centers take a multidisciplinary approach to treating cancer as a complex group of diseases that requires consultation among surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, diagnostic radiologists, pathologists, and other cancer specialists, he said.

They also have access to information on clinical trials and new treatments, genetic counseling, and patient centered services including psycho-social support, a patient navigation process, and a survivorship care plan that documents the care each patient receives and seeks to improve cancer survivors’ quality of life, he said.   

Like all CoC-accredited facilities, Banner – UMC Tucson maintains a cancer registry and contributes data to the National Cancer Data Base (NCDB), a joint program of the CoC and American Cancer Society.

This nationwide oncology outcomes database is the largest clinical disease registry in the world. Data on all types of cancer are tracked and analyzed through the NCDB and used to explore trends in cancer care. CoC-accredited cancer centers, in turn, have access to information derived from this type of data analysis, which is used to create national, regional, and state benchmark reports. These reports help CoC facilities with their quality improvement efforts.