American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

Established in 1963, the Cancer Liaison Program of the Commission on Cancer (CoC) was developed as a grassroots network of physician volunteers willing to manage clinically related cancer activities in their local institutions and surrounding communities. Initially, membership was limited to surgeons; however, in the 1970s, membership was expanded to reflect the multidisciplinary composition of professionals who care for patients with cancer. Today, approximately 45 percent of the nearly 1,500 Cancer Liaison Physicians represent non-surgical disciplines.

The Committee on Cancer Liaison directs the activities of the Cancer Liaison Program including the network of Cancer Liaison Physicians (CLPs) and State Chairs. The Committee also oversees the implementation of priorities established by the funding agency, the American Cancer Society.

Program Structure

The Cancer Liaison Program is composed of a network of 1,500 CLPs serving CoC-accredited cancer programs, and approximately 64 State Chairs who provide leadership to the CLPs in their state or region.

Relationship with the American Cancer Society

The Commission on Cancer and the American Cancer Society have a long-standing history together and have shared major milestones in more than 90 years of working together. The financial and staff/volunteer investment between the Society and the CoC has been significant. Each year, the Society awards funds to the CoC to support two programs—the Cancer Liaison Program and the National Cancer Database. Yet, a dollar amount cannot be placed on the value of human resources contributed to the partnership. Past and current collaboration between the Society and the CoC has made a tremendous impact on the support available to newly diagnosed cancer patients, education of the public about cancer prevention and early detection, and physician engagement in cancer control activities at the state and community levels. Continued success of this relationship can significantly influence the reduction of cancer incidence and mortality and increase access to high-quality cancer care for cancer patients nationwide.

CLP Award

The CoC Cancer Liaison Program is launching a new award program to recognize outstanding performance by Cancer Liaison Physicians (CLPs) in their role as the physician quality leaders of their cancer programs. CLPs can be nominated by any member of an accredited program's Cancer Committee, CoC site reviewers, and/or State Chairs. To submit a nomination, please complete this survey by August 15. The CoC State Chairs CLP Education Advisory Group will choose the winners by September 15.

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Letter to Surgeons

The letter is being distributed to all CoC State Chairs and Cancer Liaison Physicians to be shared with the surgeons on staff at each CoC-accredited facility. We encourage all staff to utilize this resource to understand the documentation requirements of the CoC Operative Standards. Questions can be directed to

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Standard 5.8 Requirements & Best Practices

The requirements of Standard 5.8: Pulmonary Resection from the CoC Optimal Resources for Cancer Care (2020 Standards) are described in this video, as well as strategies to optimize compliance. We recommend that all Cancer Liaison Physicians and State Chairs distribute this video to surgeons at their CoC-accredited cancer programs and encourage program staff to show the video during tumor boards.

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NCDB Tools 2021

The NCDB has released their NCDB Tools 2021 brochure. These tools are for use by CoC-accredited programs as a means by which to evaluate and compare the cancer care delivered to patients diagnosed and/or treated at their facility with that provided at the state, regional, and national levels.

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Standards 5.3–5.8

This brief video introduces the Operative Standards and the rationale for their incorporation into the CoC accreditation standards. We recommend that all CLPs and State Chairs distribute this video to surgeons at their CoC-accredited cancer programs and encourage program staff to show the video during tumor boards.

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2020 Standards Updated

An updated version of Optimal Resources for Cancer Care (2020 Standards) is now available. The February 2021 version includes the previously-announced updates to the NCDB submission standards. Also included in the updated manual are revisions to the Operative Standards (Standards 5.3-5.8).

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Clinical Trial Resources

The American College of Surgeons Cancer Research Program (ACS CRP) has developed several new resources for Commission on Cancer (CoC) programs to increase physician involvement with clinical trials.

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