Commission on Cancer

Local physician appointed to Commission on Cancer position

Leonard Lapkin, MD, cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon at St. Mary’s Hospital & Regional Medical Center, has received a three-year appointment as cancer liaison physician for St. Mary’s cancer care program. Cancer liaison physicians are an integral part of cancer programs accredited by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer (CoC).

Lapkin is part of a national network of more than 1,500 volunteer physicians responsible for providing leadership and direction to establish, maintain, and support their facilities’ cancer programs. Lapkin, who has a significant interest in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with malignant diseases, is a member of the multidisciplinary cancer committee at St. Mary’s Regional Cancer Center, an institution dedicated to comprehensive quality cancer care.

Cancer liaison physicians are responsible for evaluating, interpreting, and reporting their facilities’ performance data through the National Cancer Data Base (NCDB) and facilitating quality improvement initiatives based on data findings. In addition, the cancer liaison physician is responsible for leading CoC initiatives within the cancer program and collaborating with agencies such as the American Cancer Society on behalf of the hospital. The CoC collects data from its accredited cancer programs and provides tools for these programs to facilitate analysis of patterns of diagnosis, treatment, and quality of care for patients treated at the hospital.

“St. Mary’s has been accredited by the CoC since 1991. The American Cancer Society, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the National Cancer Institute and other national organizations recognize CoC-accredited cancer treatment centers as facilities dedicated to quality care and improvement with performance measures built on evidence-based practices,” says Diana Morneault, RN, MS, director of St. Mary’s Regional Cancer Center. “In his role as cancer liaison physician, Dr. Lapkin is a link between St. Mary’s and the collective experience and data of the best cancer treatment in the country.”

St. Mary’s Regional Cancer Center

Since the early 1940s, St. Mary's Hospital has played an integral part in the detection and treatment of cancer for thousands of patients from western Colorado and eastern Utah. In June 2003, St. Mary's Advanced Medicine Pavilion became the new home of St. Mary's Regional Cancer Center. The state-of-the-art facility brings together medical oncology and radiation oncology services, and the supporting services of the Regional Blood Center and Pavilion Imaging.

The National Cancer Data Base (NCDB), a joint program of the Commission on Cancer (CoC) of the American College of Surgeons (ACoS) and the American Cancer Society (ACS), is a nationwide oncology outcomes database for more than 1,500 Commission-accredited cancer programs in the United States and Puerto Rico. Some 70 percent of all newly diagnosed cases of cancer in the United States are captured at the institutional level and reported to the NCDB.

Commission on Cancer (CoC) of the American College of Surgeons (ACoS) is a consortium of professional organizations dedicated to improving survival and quality of life for cancer patients through standard-setting, prevention, research, education, and monitoring of comprehensive quality care. For more visit