Newswise — Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Rectal Cancer Program has earned a three-year accreditation from the American College of Surgeons’ National Accreditation Program for Rectal Cancer (NAPRC). The program is one of only around 50 in the country, and the first in Miami, to gain this recognition.

“This accreditation puts us in an elite subset of colorectal cancer programs in the country,” said Assistant Professor of Surgery Luanne Force, M.D., who helped spearhead efforts to gain the NAPRC accreditation. “It also acknowledges our strong multidisciplinary team of surgeons, radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, radiologists, and pathologists.”

To achieve NAPRC accreditation, programs must adopt NAPRC standards on program management, clinical services, and quality improvement, and establish a multidisciplinary care team.

While most of the NAPRC requirements were already in place at Sylvester, the team had to reorganize how care was being provided. Dr. Force and many others spent four years working on this accreditation – creating a dedicated rectal cancer tumor board, hiring a coordinator, and developing standardized diagnostic approaches to ensure that all patients receive the highest quality care.

“The group came up with a robust treatment algorithm for rectal cancer,” said Dr. Force. “In addition, all patients are now presented at the tumor board. The team has really come together to get this done, and it’s been incredible to see how the program has evolved.”

The accreditation means the rectal cancer program adheres to the highest quality standards and is providing the most advanced, evidence-based care.

“Patients will know that we have all the necessary tools to get them through a difficult disease process,” said Laurence Russell Sands, M.D., professor and chief, Division of Colon and Rectal Surgery. “They can gain that extra level of comfort from knowing they’re being treated at an accredited site of excellence for rectal cancer.”

The accreditation will also support efforts to recruit additional surgeons and is an acknowledgement that Sylvester has one of the top rectal cancer programs in the country.

“Patient come from all over South Florida to get our opinions, and they often have incredibly complex disease,” said Dr. Force. “These cases have multiple organs involved, metastasis, and are unique to each patient. We get a lot of referrals for these difficult cancers because people know we have the tools to help.”