Stanford Medicine Newsletter Updates For the Local Community

Stanford Receives NCI Cancer Center Designation

Summer 2007

"NCI designation validates to our patients and our community that Stanford is one of the premier cancer treatment centers in the nation."

Martha Marsh, president and CEO of Stanford Hospital & Clinics

The Stanford Comprehensive Cancer Center has been awarded "cancer center" designation from the National Cancer Institute -- a distinction that reflects both high-quality patient treatment and excellent basic and clinical research. This new status is shared with the Fremont-based Northern California Cancer Center, which worked with Stanford to achieve the designation.

Stanford's NCI designation means that people in the local community will have more access to programs aimed at preventing cancer, thanks in part to the partnership with the Northern California Cancer Center. This collaboration, combined with increased access to NCI resources, will be a benefit especially for underserved minorities with limited access to cancer care and prevention, said Beverly Mitchell, MD, deputy director of Stanford's Comprehensive Cancer Center.

"The Northern California Cancer Center has expertise in studying cancer trends and outcomes, cancer prevention research, and outreach that will make a real difference in preventing cancer and improving the quality of life for cancer survivors in the Bay Area," said Donald Nielsen, PhD, the organization's CEO.

The NCI is part of the National Institutes of Health and is the primary source of funding for cancer research in the United States. It supports 61 cancer centers characterized by scientific excellence and diverse approaches to cancer research. Becoming one of these centers will increase support for both Stanford patients and faculty.

"NCI designation validates to our patients and our community that Stanford is one of the premier cancer treatment centers in the nation," said Martha Marsh, president and CEO of Stanford Hospital & Clinics. "Each year, thousands of people in our area are diagnosed with cancer. Stanford physicians, nurses and other highly skilled medical professionals are proud to provide patients with the latest advances in diagnosis and treatment, in a beautiful and caring environment."

As a result of the designation, patients will have greater access to clinical trials, and those eligible for Medicare can receive coverage for their participation in NCI clinical trials. "We can expect to see a larger number of clinical trials, in a wider area of cancers, that patients coming to Stanford can participate in," said Philip Pizzo, MD, dean of the School of Medicine.

The designation will likely provide $1 million per year for three years, although the exact details still need to be determined. These funds can be used for clinical and scientific research, and for the infrastructure of the cancer center, including administrative costs and core facilities. Stanford will also gain access to cancer education and prevention initiatives through the NCI. In addition, Stanford faculty will be able to apply for cooperative grants, which fund collaborations between researchers at NCI-designated schools.

In its review of Stanford's programs, the NCI specifically noted the excellence of the school's basic research and cancer care, with a special nod to its molecular imaging, cancer biology and bone marrow transplant programs, each of which received an outstanding rating from the review committee. Pizzo said he hopes the NCI designation will help propel additional cancer programs to the same level of excellence. In its review, the NCI said that although there is much left to be accomplished, "the future contributions of the Stanford Cancer Center are likely to be extraordinary."

Mitchell said the designation is the culmination of a three-year effort on the part of many clinicians and researchers at Stanford. The achievement is even more significant given the NCI's stagnant budget during a time when research costs are on the rise. "To be an NCI-designated cancer center in this time of decreased NCI funding is quite an achievement," she said.

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