UArizona Cancer Center again receives highest NCI designation as Comprehensive Cancer Center

a doctor standing next to a patient lying on a bed

The NCI-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center meets the highest standards for patient care and research, with patients receiving the best care possible and experiencing better outcomes.

Kris Hanning/University of Arizona Health Sciences

The National Cancer Institute recently renewed the University of Arizona Cancer Center's status as an NCI-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center and the corresponding support grant for a new five-year period.

The UArizona Cancer Center is one of 53 Comprehensive Cancer Centers designated by the NCI and the only one in Arizona. The designation is the highest awarded by the NCI.

Joann Sweasy

Joann Sweasy

Kris Hanning/University of Arizona Health Sciences

"We achieved redesignation as an NCI-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center because we meet the highest standards for providing cancer care to our patients and conducting cancer research," said Joann Sweasy, who holds the Nancy C. and Craig M. Berge Endowed Chair and is director of the UArizona Cancer Center. "We know that patients treated at NCI-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers experience better outcomes, and we are able to offer cutting-edge treatments that can truly be lifesaving for our patients."

Each NCI-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center focuses its research, community engagement and outreach on a specific geographic area, or catchment.

"Since the last renewal period, we characterized the cancer burden of our catchment area through our Office of Community Outreach and Engagement," Sweasy said. "This helped us better define our catchment and prioritize research focused on the cancer burdens that our diverse communities face."

The center's catchment area has a highly diverse population that is 50% non-Hispanic white, 39% Hispanic and 2.5% American Indian/Alaskan Native. Individuals in the catchment area are affected by several significant cancer risk factors including obesity, low rates of cancer screening and environmental exposures.

The UArizona Cancer Center prioritizes five cancers of greatest concern to its catchment, including gastrointestinal cancer, genitourinary cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer and melanoma. 

The UArizona Cancer Center emphasizes transdisciplinary collaboration around three scientific themes: cancer and the environment, cancer imaging and bioengineering and novel therapeutics and preventive interventions. Its more than 150 members include faculty from 36 departments across 11 UArizona colleges. 

Working with its clinical partner, Banner – University Medicine in Tucson, the UArizona Cancer Center has several research locations. The UArizona Cancer Center clinics, part of the Banner – University Medical Center Tucson, have two clinical and research locations: the Cancer Center North Campus and the Cancer Center Orange Grove Campus. These locations house comprehensive oncology multi-disciplinary care clinics, including medical, surgical, radiation oncology, clinical trials, supportive care services and prevention clinics. Dr. Chad Whelan is the president of the Banner – University Medicine Division.

"The renewal of our support grant is due to the teamwork exhibited by the leadership and members of our Cancer Center, as well as the strong institutional support conveyed by University of Arizona Senior Vice President for Health Sciences Dr. Michael Dake and University of Arizona President Dr. Robert C. Robbins," Sweasy said. "Additionally, we are incredibly thankful for the support of Dr. Whelan and the remarkable relationship we have with Banner – University Medicine Tucson."

The UArizona Cancer Center was established in 1976 when it received its first NCI Cancer Center Support Grant. The support grant has been renewed in every renewal period since, including in 1990 when the UArizona Cancer Center received the "comprehensive" designation for the first time. That status has been maintained ever since

A version of this article originally appeared on the UArizona Health Sciences website.

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