Berkshire Medical Center Program Approved By Cancer Commission

PITTSFIELD — The Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons has granted approval to the cancer program at Berkshire Medical Center, with BMC’s program attaining the highest rating possible in all mandatory areas of a comprehensive program survey. According to the surveyor, BMC has made significant advances in particular in breast cancer care and radiation oncology services, including development of the BMC Women’s Imaging Center program and the implementation of brachytherapy, which uses implanted irradiated ‘seeds’ as therapy for prostate cancer. 

Established by the American College of Surgeons in 1932, the Approvals Program sets standards for cancer programs and reviews the programs to make sure they conform to those standards. Recognizing that 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.

Berkshire Medical Center’s cancer program was surveyed in December 2003 and rated on ten program standards and several mandatory subsections. These covered all aspects of the cancer program at BMC, including program management and administration, patient education, prevention and screening efforts, clinical management and patient care, supportive care, research, quality management and improvement, cancer data management, and staff support and education.

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

Approval by the Commission on Cancer is given only to those facilities, like BMC, that have voluntarily committed to provide the best in diagnosis and treatment of cancer and to undergo a rigorous evaluation process and review of its performance. In order to maintain approval, facilities with approved cancer programs must undergo an on-site review every three years.

The American Cancer Society estimates that approximately 1.3 million cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the United States each year. Slightly more than one-fifth of the country’s hospitals have approved cancer programs, and more than 80{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} of patients who are newly diagnosed with cancer are treated in those facilities.

The Commission on Cancer is composed of fellows of the American College of Surgeons and other members representing 36 national cancer-related organizations. Postgraduate courses, symposia, and programs about cancer are developed by the commission for health care professionals involved in cancer care.