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NCI Designation Benefits Entire Region

Roy A. Jensen, MD, Director, The University of Kansas Hospital; 
Terance T. Tsue, MD, FACS, Physician-in-Chief, The University of Kansas Hospital; 
Mark C. Myron, MD, Medical Director, The University of Kansas Cancer Center, Community Cancer Program
Peter Van Veldhuizen, MD, Hematology and Oncology Division Director

Only 67 institutions in the United States have earned National Cancer Institute designation. After nearly a decade of rigorous preparation, The University of Kansas Cancer Center received notice in July 2012 that we were successful in our quest for this prestigious honor. This is an important step for our organization, as well as for cancer patients and caregivers throughout the heartland.

Working toward a world without cancer

Approximately 26,000 cancer cases are diagnosed each year in Kansas and western Missouri. In the past, many local patients have traveled to Houston, Rochester or New York to access clinical trials and therapies only offered at NCI-designated Cancer Centers. Now, patients at The University of Kansas Cancer Center may have access to these clinical trials and therapies. And, so may cancer patients throughout the region, through one of our Midwest Cancer Alliance partners.

Midwest Cancer Alliance links us together

In 2007, we launched the membership-based Midwest Cancer Alliance.This organization facilitates collaboration between The University of Kansas Cancer Center and a network of community-based oncologists and cancer care professionals throughout Kansas and western Missouri. This partnership will play a vital role in advancing access to  leading-edge NCI clinical trials for patients across the region. MCA member services include:

  • Prevention, screening, early detection and survivorship programs
  • Patient navigation programs
  • Access to clinical trials
  • Continuing professional education
  • Networking events and conferences
  • Email second opinion and consultation 
  • Tele-oncology consultations and education
  • Network Institutional Review Board 

Research options

Today’s most advanced cancer clinical trials are available only at NCI-designated Cancer Centers. We offer four types of phase I-III clinical trials, including prevention, treatment, survivorship and population-based. These trials may benefit patients along the continuum of care, including at-risk patients with a family history of cancer and the newly diagnosed. For oncologists and their patients who have exhausted standard treatment options, these trials may provide the best chance for survival.

Clinical trials offer patients options. When they choose to participate in a clinical trial, they are also making a choice to be part of, and make an invaluable contribution to, a process that can lead to promising innovations and help future patients battle the disease. Some of our trials are available only at The University of Kansas Cancer Center. Others may be implemented at our MCA-affiliate locations.

It takes a team

A patient is more than his cancer. Experience has taught us that a multidisciplinary approach proves most effective when caring for cancer patients. While a patient and oncologists are focused on eliminating the cancer, other concurrent health issues may be present and require care. That’s why it’s vital for primary care physicians, oncologists, nurse navigators and nurses to coordinate their efforts as they treat the whole person, not just the cancer. NCI designation will further enable us to share best practices with the entire healthcare community.

Designation is just the beginning 

NCI designation is the ultimate recognition for an academic cancer center. It signifies that we have achieved the highest standard in the industry. It tells the world that exceptional cancer research is already taking place in our community. But this is not the end of a quest; it is a new beginning. NCI designation will increase the flow of state and federal research dollars to the region. It will allow us to recruit and retain additional world-class cancer researchers and staff, physicians and nurses. Ultimately, NCI designation means more advanced care is available for cancer patients here, closer to home. Together, we can continue our journey and work toward the ultimate goal: a region, nation and world without cancer.

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