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Cancer staging content from the American Joint Committee on Cancer will appear in SNOMED CT

July 6, 2022

London, United Kingdom and Chicago, Illinois

The American College of Surgeons (ACS) and SNOMED International have entered into a licensing agreement to include agreed upon American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) references in SNOMED CT. The AJCC is administered by the Chicago-based American College of Surgeons.

The focus of the agreement enables SNOMED International to include updated AJCC staging concepts critical to understanding cancer and treating patients, while eliminating outdated AJCC content no longer relevant to clinical care within SNOMED CT.

The ACS is dedicated to improving the quality of care of surgical patients, including cancer patients requiring surgery, safeguarding standards of care in an optimal and ethical practice environment, and setting the standard for surgical care in the United States. Evidence-based anatomic staging is the critical factor to understanding cancer and treating patients and new breakthroughs are opening up ever-more promising possibilities for precisely defining a prognosis and recommending a treatment based on a patient's individual data. The AJCC has developed and compiled cancer staging references for quickly finding important information about different types of cancers. These references and tools are excellent resources for those treating patients with cancer.

SNOMED International is an international not-for-profit organization that develops and promotes the use of SNOMED CT, a comprehensive, multilingual healthcare terminology created for use by healthcare professionals to capture the care of individuals in an electronic health record and facilitate sharing, decision support and analytics, to support safe and effective health information exchange. The purpose of SNOMED International is to develop, maintain, promote, and enable the uptake and correct use of its terminology products in health systems, services and products around the world. Up to date AJCC content contributes to the comprehensive and quality assured nature of SNOMED CT for its Members, affiliates and stakeholders in the United States and globally.

“Evidence-based anatomic staging is the critical factor to understanding cancer and treating patients. New breakthroughs in oncologic, radiologic, pathologic, and molecular science are opening up that need to be considered for keeping cancer staging information current and relevant to patients. The AJCC endeavors to consider all of these factors in keeping its staging content current. Moreover, as we continue to find ourselves on the other side of the COVID pandemic and move toward trying to get more patients screened and staged for cancer if needed, having the most current staging information available to more clinicians is essential. With this agreement, current AJCC cancer staging content will reach a much wider audience for these important purposes,” said Heidi Nelson, MD, FACS, Medical Director of ACS Cancer Programs.

As of April 2022, the ACS and AJCC have enabled the inclusion of the Categories and all Allowable Values (i.e. cT1, cN0, cM0) from the AJCC cancer staging system into the International Edition release of SNOMED CT. Further, the agreement requires historical AJCC and related content, derived from the 5th and 6th editions of the staging manual, to be inactivated as outdated. The agreement with the ACS for AJCC content does not include the Criteria for these Categories and Allowable Values and any SNOMED CT user who requires definitions for AJCC Allowable Values will be directed by SNOMED International to the American College of Surgeons for the appropriate license. Within the scope of the agreement, both parties have committed to review and renew where appropriate its content annually.

“Cancer’s many challenges can’t be solved without good collaboration. This agreement between the AJCC and SNOMED International will bring the latest evidence-based information on cancer staging to a wider clinical audience who can immediately apply it in their clinical practices. Ultimately, cancer patients beyond the U.S. will benefit from it too and more lives will be saved,” said Patricia L. Turner, MD, FACS, ACS Executive Director.

SNOMED International CEO Don Sweete describes the recently signed licensing agreement with the American College of Surgeons as representative of the spirit of partnership and commitment to clinical quality growing globally. “The ability to produce comprehensive and clinically informed and assured standards across the breadth of healthcare domains is critical to the safe use of health information technology. The American Joint Committee on Cancer’s evidence-based work on anatomic staging is the critical factor to understanding cancer and treating patients and a significant addition to the SNOMED CT knowledge base.”

With the finalization of the agreement, Dr. James Case, SNOMED International’s Chief Terminologist, speaks about the importance of the license. “The agreement brings us up to date on the current status of cancer staging, supports the needs of pathologists and oncologists as well as cancer registries, and enables us to maintain that currency.”

A leading organization responsible for setting the standard of surgical care, the ACS and AJCC formalize this agreement with SNOMED International to broaden global awareness and adoption of cancer staging information. Evolving to become the international hub for all manner of health information standards, for SNOMED International, this agreement contributes to the organization’s support of growing pathology content in SNOMED CT.

Visit the American College of Surgeons, the American Joint Committee on Cancer, and SNOMED International for more information.

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