Sutter Cancer Programs Receive Special Accreditation
Dec 11, 2023
Karin Fleming
Latino man in long sleeve plaid shirt and white jacket vest walks through garden with white lounge chairs in the background

It’s been a life by design for Miquel Aymerich. The Spanish architect has spent decades devising meticulous blueprints and carrying out grand visions for various projects, both international and stateside. So, one can only imagine the shock when things didn’t go according to plan for him in 2022, when he was diagnosed with stage 3 esophageal cancer.

Trouble swallowing and weight loss had prompted the San Carlos, CA resident to seek medical care at Sutter’s Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) clinic in Palo Alto. A procedure called an endoscopy was performed, which revealed a cancerous mass in his esophagus.  Over the coming months, the 76-year-old underwent chemotherapy and radiation to kill the cancerous cells, then surgery to remove the remaining tumor.

Throughout his diagnosis, Aymerich received expert care from Sutter medical and radiation oncologists, surgical oncologists, interventional gastroenterologists and pulmonologists across PAMF care sites. That care was complemented by support from nurse navigators, dieticians, a social worker and financial navigators. These efforts combined helped Aymerich feel steadier, providing him sufficient information and resources to help him successfully manage his treatments and continue recovering from surgery and side effects from immunotherapy.

“A cancer diagnosis can absolutely be unexpected. But we are here to find options for individuals like Mr. Aymerich and the 17,000 newly diagnosed patients who seek cancer care inside the Sutter Health system each year,” says medical oncologist Dr. Natalia Colocci, executive medical director of the cancer service line at Sutter’s PAMF Group. Dr. Colocci was just one of the multidisciplinary team of specialists who coordinated Aymerich’s lifechanging treatment while offering expertise, compassion and hope.

Gold Stars for Sutter’s Cancer Programs Shine Bright for Patients

Now the high-quality, multidisciplinary care provided to Aymerich and other patients diagnosed with cancer at Sutter has been accredited as an Integrated Network Cancer Program (INCP) by the Commission on Cancer (CoC), a quality program of the American College of Surgeons (ACS).

“This is an exemplary milestone affirming the value of Sutter’s integrated network, and one of the highest certifications in delivering unparalleled cancer care to our patients and communities,” says Dr. Steven Hao, chief medical officer for clinical service lines at Sutter Health. “We are proud to reaffirm our commitment to providing Sutter patients coordinated, evidence-based cancer care where and when they need it.”

Do you or a loved one have cancer? Find resources offered at Sutter Health.

Delivering the Highest Quality, Integrated Cancer Care  

Sutter Health—an integrated, not-for-profit system supporting more than 3 million patients in diverse communities across Northern California—is one of the largest healthcare networks in the nation to obtain INCP status with the ACS. Sutter offers patients oncologic services at 19 cancer centers, and additional care sites will open over the next four years.

As a CoC-accredited integrated network cancer program, Sutter Health applies a multidisciplinary approach and treats cancer as a complex group of diseases that requires consultation among surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, diagnostic radiologists, pathologists and other healthcare professionals that specialize in caring for individuals with cancer. Patients with cancer benefit from access to clinical trials, screening and prevention events, palliative care, genetic counseling, rehabilitation, oncology nutrition and survivorship services inside Sutter’s system.

CoC accreditation and an INCP designation are among the highest levels of excellence in cancer care and recognize hospitals that are able to treat some of the most complex cases.

Surpassing Quality Benchmarks to Put Patients First, at All Stages of Cancer Care   

To be accredited by the CoC and designated an INCP, Sutter Health achieved the most comprehensive standards in the field, verified by rigorous peer-reviewed inspections.

As a CoC-accredited and INCP-designated center for cancer care, Sutter Health is able to offer patients expertise and services not provided at all hospitals. CoC accreditation requires a thorough review of all clinical practices and policies, using an interdisciplinary approach, integrating processes throughout the program, setting new standards and refining old ones.

CoC accreditation at Sutter is one of several recent achievements made in service to individuals with cancer and their caregivers:

  • Access to cutting-edge treatments and technologies such as CAR T-cell therapy and other new immunotherapies, GammaTile® neurosurgery therapy and targeted radiation therapy with linear accelerators (LINACs)
  • Options to enroll in more than 150 Phase 1-4, industry and National Cancer Institute-sponsored clinical trials of novel treatments
  • Training opportunities for tomorrow’s leading oncologists: Sutter offers residents and fellows nationally renowned Graduate Medical Education programs that deliver cutting-edge expertise, helping them stay abreast of emerging best practices for unparalleled cancer care
  • Implementation of the Sutter Health Lung Nodule and Cancer Screening Program
  • The establishment of a digital concierge assistant so patients can schedule cancer screenings like colonoscopy and receive follow-up care after prostatectomy


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