Clinical Corner - November 2021

A few weeks ago, the American College of Surgeons officially launched the centennial anniversary celebration of the Commission on Cancer. In 1921, the ACS Board of Regents authorized the formation of the Registry of Bone Sarcoma under the direction of Ernest Amory Codman of Boston, MA. One year later, the cancer initiative of the ACS was formalized under the banner of the Committee on the Treatment of Malignant Diseases with Radium and X-ray. The original name of the committee was changed to the Committee on the Treatment of Malignant Diseases (CTMD).

The concept of developing “cancer clinics” in existing general hospitals was conceived in 1927 and finally launched in 1931 with the first surveys. The first cancer clinic was established at the Massachusetts General Hospital. Early standards included cancer conferences for discussion of patient management, the mandate to include surgical therapy and equipment for “x-ray” therapy and radium sources, appropriate record-keeping on the treatment of each patient and organized surgical divisions within the hospital to support the cancer clinics.

During the late 1930s, the members of the newly named ACS Committee on Cancer recognized that not all cancer clinics should be created at large urban hospitals. Several clinics were approved at smaller, rural institutions with the understanding that patients requiring specialized cancer care would be referred to the nearest, fully equipped cancer clinic. The tradition of sending surgical site visitors to evaluate the cancer clinics was launched. This would be the forerunner of the approvals and accreditation activities of the CoC in future decades.

For me, the most important accomplishment of the CoC over these 100 years is the initiation and support for cancer registries and cancer registrars. All of you have been the bedrock underlying all of the successes of the CoC over these 100 years and I celebrate you every day!