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What does it mean to be a Comprehensive Cancer Center?

June 27, 2013

Comprehensive Cancer Center is the highest ranking awarded by the National Cancer Institute, one of the National Institutes of Health and the nation’s foremost authority on cancer.

NCI-designated cancers centers are institutions dedicated to research in the development of more effective approaches to prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

Of the 67 NCI-designated cancer centers, 26 are labeled “Cancer Centers” and 41 are “Comprehensive Cancer Centers.” Cancer Centers have a primary focus and expertise in laboratory, clinical or population-based research. Comprehensive Centers meet NCI standards in all three categories and disseminate advances through professional and public education and outreach activities.

NCI-designated cancer centers must re-apply for their designation and undergo a site visit by external reviewers every five years.

In 1995, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center received its first NCI designation as a Cancer Center, the youngest cancer center to do so. In 2001, it became the first in Tennessee to gain Comprehensive status. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis became a Comprehensive Center in 2008.