Next Step – Comprehensive Cancer Center Designation

It’s been three years since The University of Kansas Cancer Center earned National Cancer Institute (NCI) designation, and leaders at the KU Cancer Center are far from finished in their quest for enhancing scientific excellence.

“Achieving NCI designation was just the first step in our journey toward becoming one of the country’s premier cancer centers,” said Roy Jensen, MD, director of the KU Cancer Center. “We are less than one year away from applying for Comprehensive Cancer Center designation, our ultimate goal.”

Obtaining Comprehensive Cancer Center designation, as stated by the NCI, requires additional depth and breadth of cancer research activities in these major areas: basic laboratory, clinical, prevention control and population-based research. Cancer centers must also conduct substantial transdisciplinary research that bridges these scientific areas and demonstrate effectiveness in serving their catchment area, as well as the broader population, through the cancer research they support.

“Becoming an NCI-designated Cancer Center is analogous to being in the big leagues, but becoming a Comprehensive Cancer Center is like going to the All Stars,” said Danny Welch, PhD, director of Basic Science for the KU Cancer Center, who has been leading the strategic planning process for Comprehensive Cancer Center designation with Terry Tsue, MD, physician-in-chief for the KU Cancer Center. “While the process for this designation is exactly the same, the criteria are amped up a bit. As the name implies, the components must be comprehensive and of uniformly outstanding quality.”

Realizing the challenge of communicating this message to employees, community leaders and legislators, a communications team from the KU Cancer Center, the University of Kansas Medical Center and The University of Kansas Hospital created a messaging document that explains in straightforward language what the cancer center must do in order to earn Comprehensive Cancer Center designation. That message: our efforts must be wider, deeper and larger.

“We have already made significant advances since we earned NCI designation in July 2012, but we have a lot to do in the next year to reach the next level,” said Dr. Jensen. “We will seek support that will allow us to continue to expand our facilities, recruit expert cancer staff, conduct cutting-edge research and serve more patients throughout our region.”

Roy Jensen, M.D., director, and Terry Tsue, M.D. physician-in-chief, of The University of Kansas Cancer Center talk about the road to achieving the NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center designation and what it means to our patients and our region.