Skip to main content

What it Means to be an NCI-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center

Read time: 4 minutes

Exterior of Huntsman Cancer Institute building

In 2015, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) awarded Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah with its Comprehensive status. Huntsman Cancer Institute is the only NCI-designated Cancer Center in the Mountain West. This means we provide the highest national standards for cancer research and treatment. We are recognized for our leadership, resources, and research. We also receive support for our scientific endeavors.

What is an NCI-designated Cancer Center?

The NCI Cancer Centers Program was created as part of the National Cancer Act, which was signed into law by President Nixon on December 23, 1971. It is one of the anchors of the nation’s cancer research efforts. The policy launched major progress toward saving lives and reducing the suffering caused by cancer.

Through this program, the NCI recognizes cancer centers around the country that meet thorough standards for research, cancer care, education, prevention, and community outreach. This program supports 71 cancer centers in the United States today. These centers are honored for their level of research, serving their communities and the broader public, and combining training and education for cancer researchers and health care providers.

Huntsman Cancer Institute is an NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center that is recognized for its innovative approaches to preventing, diagnosing, and treating cancer.

How many NCI-designated Cancer Centers are there?

The NCI supports 71 cancer centers located in 36 states and the District of Columbia. NCI-designated Cancer Centers dedicate significant resources toward developing research programs, faculty, and facilities. There are three distinct levels that the NCI recognizes:

  • Basic Laboratory Cancer Centers
  • Cancer Centers
  • Comprehensive Cancer Centers

Of these 71 centers, 53 are Comprehensive Cancer Centers, meaning they are also recognized by the NCI for their leadership, resources, and the breadth and depth of their research. Several of the NCI-designated Cancer Care Centers focus only on research, leading to improved cancer treatments, though a majority are tied to university medical centers and provide clinical cancer care—like Huntsman Cancer Institute.

Why should patients be treated at an NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center?

Our patients are at the center of everything we do. Being treated at an NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center means patients receive the gold standard of care and have better health outcomes. Research findings at NCI-designated Cancer Centers have quickly led to new and better cancer treatments. These have improved the quality of patients’ lives and increased the number of cancer survivors in the United States.

Patients who are seen at Huntsman Cancer Institute have access to all the following:

  • The expertise of more than 150 cancer specialists
  • The latest technology in cancer care
  • Innovative research
  • New treatments
  • Clinical trials

How many patients are treated at NCI-designated Cancer Centers?

About 250,000 patients find out they have cancer at an NCI-designated Cancer Center each year. Thousands of patients are enrolled in clinical trials at these centers. Many centers also provide public education and outreach programs on cancer prevention and screening with special attention to the needs of underserved people.

NCI-designated Cancer Centers serve their local areas and the broader public by turning discoveries found in labs and through health and clinical research into new cancer treatments, better screening and detection methods, and more knowledge of ways to prevent cancer. These findings are shared with local communities through the creation of programs and new services fitted to the specific and unique populations in the areas they serve, which also benefit similar populations across the United States.

As an NCI-designated Cancer Center doing state-of-the-art research leading to new cancer care, treatments, and understanding, Huntsman Cancer Institute is as committed as ever to delivering a cancer-free frontier.

Cancer touches all of us.