November 22, 2017
“Roy Jensen, through his leadership and collaboration, has brought NCI (National Cancer Institute) designation to our town … and has changed cancer care and the quality of life for everyone in Kansas City,” says 2016 Kansas Citian of the Year Don Hall, Jr., as he honored Roy Jensen, MD, the driving force behind the KU Cancer Center’s success and the KC Chamber’s 2017 Kansas Citian of the Year.
“Dr. Jensen is passionate in his fight against cancer, and his leadership has brought front line cancer research and treatment to our region,” says Joe Reardon, president and CEO of the KC Chamber. “His work has directly saved lives in Kansas City and is contributing to the betterment of our entire Kansas City region.”
The Kansas Citian of the Year, the highest civic honor in Kansas City, was presented to Dr. Jensen at the climax of the KC Chamber’s 130th Annual Dinner Tuesday, November 22.
Born in Kansas City, Kansas, Dr. Jensen returned to the area in 2004 to become director of The University of Kansas Cancer Center. In the eight years that followed, he guided the cancer center to become a National Cancer Institute (NCI)- designated cancer center, one of only 70in the U.S.
Today’s most advanced cancer clinical trials are available only at NCI-designated cancer centers. Meanwhile, 26,000 people are diagnosed with cancer every year in Kansas and western Missouri. Before NCI-designation, those with the means to do so had to travel to Houston or Minnesota to receive the best treatments available.
Dr. Jensen widened the network of local treatment options through the creation of the Midwest Cancer Alliance, connecting the KU Cancer Center with “a network of community-based oncologists and cancer care professionals throughout Kansas and western Missouri,” leading to better access to cutting edge clinical trials for those in the region.
Dr. Jensen and his team's next goal is to have The KU Cancer Center designated by the NCI as a Comprehensive Cancer Center, not an easy feat.
“On average,” he explained, “it takes an NCI-designated cancer center 15 years to achieve comprehensive status. And we received our NCI designation just five years ago.”
The next round of applications for Comprehensive Cancer Center status is in 2021. Dr. Jensen’s already working on it.