When the National Cancer Institute (NCI) created a system of Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the 1970s, Roswell Park — held up as a model for other centers — was among the first three to win that designation. Since then, it has had to earn the title over and over, every five years, through a tough review process. Last month Roswell Park received its highest application score and largest NCI grant in its history, confirming once again that it’s among the nation’s top cancer centers. The $22.5 million grant will provide continued support for its high-caliber research and education programs.
Major studies have shown that long-term survival rates are 6-20% better overall for patients who are treated from the beginning at NCI Comprehensive Cancer Centers, compared with those treated at other teaching hospital or community cancer centers.
Only 50 institutions in the nation qualify as NCI Comprehensive Cancer Centers; Roswell Park is the only one in New York State outside of New York City. In order to qualify, a center must show evidence of strong programs in cancer care, research and education. It must:
- Provide care for cancer patients
- Conduct basic laboratory research
- Conduct clinical trials
- Study the patterns and causes of cancer in various groups of people, as well as ways to control cancer in those groups
- Participate with other centers in conducting clinical trials that enroll patients from many regions of the country
- Provide cancer information to both the general public and healthcare professionals
The NCI review process is conducted by oncology leaders who represent other top cancer centers across the country. In this year’s assessment, they wrote, “Roswell Park is an important regional and national resource for cancer research and care. Under the strong leadership of Dr. [Candace] Johnson, and with the continued commitment of the Institution, Roswell Park is poised to continue its upward trajectory.”
Said Dr. Johnson, “This is the most coveted and competitive distinction in cancer, and our team has once again demonstrated that we can serve our community in a way no one else can. You have to excel in so many areas to earn this — patient care, bench research, clinical research, education for the next generation of cancer scientists and how you’re reaching out to your community. We have incredible teams working in all those areas, all fired by the passion to defeat cancer.”