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KU Cancer Center Fails In Quest For ‘Comprehensive’ Status But Certification Renewed

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has denied the University of Kansas Cancer Center’s campaign for a much coveted “comprehensive” designation. But the center's certification as a nationally recognized center has been renewed for five years.

"We were disappointed but not surprised to learn that we did not receive comprehensive status,” Dr. Roy Jensen, director of the KU Cancer Center, said in a statement. “On average, it takes an NCI-designated cancer center 15 years to achieve comprehensive status, and we received our NCI designation just five years ago.”

Only 47 institutions in the country have attained comprehensive status, having shown expertise in three areas – laboratory; clinical; and behavioral and population-based research.

Comprehensive centers must demonstrate “reasonable depth and breadth” across those three areas, according to the NCI's website. They also must prove they can disseminate “clinical and public health advances” to the communities they serve.

The NCI on Thursday also approved Children’s Mercy Hospital as KU Cancer Center's consortium partner. The cancer center and Children’s Mercy have collaborated since 2015 on pediatric cancer research.

"We are very pleased to have our National Cancer Institute designation renewed and to have our application for Children's Mercy to join our consortium approved," Jensen said.

The cancer center remains one of 69 nationally designated centers nationwide. 

Jensen said that NCI expressed confidence that “we have the right people and plans in place to eventually earn comprehensive status." 

There was some other good news amid the disappointment: As part of the renewal of its certification, the cancer center will get an 11 percent funding boost from NCI. And NCI increased its score from "excellent" to "outstanding." 

The cancer center earned its certification as a nationally recognized center five years ago, the culmination of a decade-long effort.

Dan Margolies is KCUR’s health editor. You can reach him on Twitter @DanMargolies.

Dan Margolies has been a reporter for the Kansas City Business Journal, The Kansas City Star, and KCUR Public Radio. He retired as a reporter in December 2022 after a 37-year journalism career.
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