Cancer centers that achieve NCI Designation are recognized by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) for exceptional cancer research.
In 1971, President Richard Nixon signed the landmark National Cancer Act authorizing a national cancer program. Fifteen new cancer centers were created through this act and were charged with conducting clinical research, training, and demonstration of advanced diagnostic and treatment methods for cancer. The ultimate goal was for these centers to be distributed geographically such that 75 percent of the United States population would have access to care at one of these centers without requiring an overnight stay.
Today, the NCI cancer centers program has grown to include 70 cancer centers distributed across 36 states. Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi are the only southern states that do not have an NCI Designated cancer center.
Stephenson Cancer Center in Oklahoma City became the most recently designated center when it earned the status in 2018. Prior to that, the most recent cancer centers to become designated were Markey Cancer Center in Lexington, Kentucky in 2013 and the University of Kansas Cancer Center in Kansas City, Kansas in 2012.
The NCI cancer centers program continues to value the geographic distribution of its cancer centers and patient access to care. The NCI has recognized that there is a great need and opportunity for Arkansas to have an NCI Designated cancer center and stands ready to support us in our journey toward NCI Designation.
Over the next few months, Breakthrough will feature a series of articles outlining the process and purpose of achieving NCI Designation.