CAMBRIDGE -- Suppose you or a loved one was diagnosed with cancer.

This will happen to half of all men and a third of all women in their lifetime. Two-thirds of all families in America will have someone diagnosed with cancer. Over 1.4 million cases are diagnosed and 600,000 people die every year from some type of cancer.

If this life-changing diagnosis affects you, how will you know where to get help and whether the advice you get about cancer treatment is the best available?

Wouldn't it be great if a group of cancer specialists was able to review the cancer information that is available and make appropriate recommendations? Wouldn't you want to know the results of other patients treated with the same cancer? Wouldn't it be good to talk with others in your area who have survived the same cancer? If you are cared for by a Commission on Cancer (CoC) approved cancer program, you can be assured of this and much more.

Residents in our area can take comfort knowing that Southeastern Med has had a CoC approved cancer program since 1991 and continues to meet the standards set by the CoC, which has resulted in recently receiving another three-year approval by the CoC.

The three-year approval resulted from an on-site evaluation by a physician surveyor during which time Southeastern Med demonstrated the full scope of the cancer program. The evaluation involved cancer committee leadership, cancer data management, clinical services, research, community outreach and quality improvement. Adherence to multiple additional standards must also be documented.

Receiving care at a CoC-approved center cancer program such as Southeastern Med ensures that a patient will have access to:

Comprehensive care, including a range of state-of-the art services and equipment;

A multi-specialty, team approach to coordinate the best treatment options;

Information about ongoing clinical trials and new treatment options;

Access to cancer-related information, education, and support;

A cancer registry that collects data on type and stage of cancers and treatment results and offers lifelong patient follow up;

Ongoing monitoring and improvement of care;

And most importantly, quality care close to home.

With Dr. Michael Sarap, surgeon with Southeastern Ohio Physicians Inc. and Southeastern Med medical staff member, serving as the chairman of Southeastern Med's cancer program and Becky Wheeler leading the cancer program as Certified Tumor Registrar, Southeastern Med's cancer program has achieved national recognition for its efforts involving cancer education and screening and for its joint efforts with the local American Cancer Society.

Members of the team have been invited to speak at conferences organized by the leaders for the Centers for Disease Control, the American College of Surgeons, Ohio Department of Health, and the National Committee on Cancer. Southeastern Med's cancer program members have also given testimony on cancer related issues at the Ohio Statehouse.

Established in 1922 by the American College of Surgeons, the CoC 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 42 national organizations that reflect the full spectrum of cancer care.

The CoC approval gives "peace of mind" to patients and families affected by cancer that they can get high quality cancer care right home in southeastern Ohio.