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December 5, 2012
Darryl Geddes 315 464-4828

Upstate University Hospital is commended for quality of cancer care

SYRACUSE, N.Y.— Upstate University Hospital has been granted a three-year (2012 to 2015) accreditation with commendation by the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons in recognition of the quality and caliber of its cancer program. Upstate has the only cancer program in Syracuse accredited by the American College of Surgeons.  This is the fourth consecutive three-year accreditation for Upstate’s cancer program.

“This is an outstanding accomplishment that reflects broadly on the quality of care Upstate patients receive when it comes to treating cancer,” said John McCabe, MD, chief executive officer of Upstate University Hospital.  “On every level, from clinical services to cancer prevention programs to education and community outreach, Upstate has made a commitment to exceeding our patients’ expectations in providing an enhanced level of cancer care.”

The Commission on Cancer reserved its highest marks—compliance with commendation—for Upstate in many areas, including cancer prevention and early detection programs, clinical improvements and outreach.

The commission gave high praise for Upstate in its recruitment of patients for cancer clinical trials.  Surveyors said Upstate’s efforts were “outstanding.”

According to Leslie J. Kohman, MD, a SUNY Distinguished Service Professor and medical director of the Upstate Cancer Center, Upstate enrolls about 13 percent of its cancer patients in clinical trials compared to the national average for adults of three percent. Upstate offers participation in dozens of clinical trials for cancer treatments.

“Clinical trials are essential in finding new treatments for cancer,” Kohman said. “When our patients sign up to participate in a clinical trial they become trailblazers in the search for these new treatments.”

Clinical trials compare medications, devices or other treatments against more standard treatment options to improve survival or reduce symptoms.  The length of a clinical trial can vary significantly, depending on what is being studied.

A patient’s decision to enroll in a clinical trial is made in consultation with physicians, and they are monitored carefully throughout the course of the trial.

Kohman said Upstate’s high participation rate reflects the importance and understanding that Upstate physicians place on clinical trials.  “We know clinical research equals good clinical care and in many cases we find better treatments for our patients through these clinical trials.”

The accreditation ensures that all patients receiving cancer care at Upstate have access to state-of-the-art services and equipment; a multidisciplinary team approach to treatment; information on clinical trials and new treatment options; cancer-related information; support and education; and a cancer registry that collects data on cancers, treatment and offers lifelong patient follow-up. It also confirms a close working relationship between Upstate’s cancer program and the American Cancer Society with its broad range of patient support services.

The accreditation follows a rigorous review, held earlier this fall, of the cancer program’s operations and care standards.

Among its many functions, the Commission on Cancer sets standards of quality for patient care and surveys facilities to evaluate compliance with 36 standards set by the commission.  Established in 1922 by the American College of Surgeons, the Commission on Cancer is a consortium of professional organizations dedicated to improving survival rates and quality of life for cancer patients through standard-setting prevention, research, education and the monitoring of comprehensive quality care.  Its membership includes fellows of the American College of Surgeons and 40 national organizations that reflect the full spectrum of cancer care.

Upstate offers comprehensive cancer treatments for a broad range of cancers, including thoracic, breast, brain, spine, blood, bone, gynecologic and genitourinary.

Upstate will offer its outpatient cancer care in a new setting by late 2013. That’s when the Upstate Cancer Center, a five-story $74 million facility, is expected to open. The new center will encompass 90,000 square feet on three stories and feature 27 private infusion areas, a four-season rooftop healing garden, meditation room, family resource center and private spaces for counseling services and three linear accelerators.

“This will be a first-rate facility for our patients to match our first-rate cancer care,” Kohman said.

Caption: An architectural drawing of the Upstate Cancer Center.

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