Kansas is taking a step forward in improving cancer treatment for its patients.
The National Cancer Institute designated the University of Kansas Cancer Center as a "Comprehensive" cancer center in July of this year. A designation of comprehensive is the highest level of achievement awarded to Cancer Centers by the NCI.
On Tuesday, leaders The University of Kansas Health System St. Francis Campus and the Masonic Cancer Alliance, the outreach network of The University of Kansas Cancer Center, gathered to acknowledge the designation.
'Access here at home' for Kansas patients is available
The University of Kansas Health System St. Francis Campus joined the Masonic Cancer Alliance in 2008 as a clinical research partner. The partnership has allowed for patients to participate in clinical trials in Topeka.
Gary C. Doolittle, medical director for the Masonic Cancer Alliance, said the NCI is interested in the community and making sure every Kansan receives the same level of care.
"The good things that could come from a comprehensive cancer — they have close access to it," Doolittle said. "With the collaborative efforts that go on between us, it will really allow them to have that access care right here at home."
The University of Kansas Center is one of the 53 comprehensive cancer centers recognized by the NCI for its resources and in-depth research. Most of the NCI-Designated Cancer Centers are affiliated with university medical centers, although several are freestanding institutions that engage only in cancer research, according to the NCI website.
Twenty years ago, 15% of Kansans left state for cancer care
"Through the partnership between the St. Francis Campus and the Masonic Cancer Alliance, patients who seek cancer care in Topeka have enhanced access to clinical trials that could improve treatments, quality of life, and survivorship," leaders said in a news release. "The St. Francis Campus is the only oncology program in Kansas with a major clinical research partnership with the Masonic Cancer Alliance."
In video remarks, Gov. Laura Kelly said two decades ago, 15% of Kansans left the state for cancer care. She commended the team at University of Kansas Cancer Center for reducing that number significantly.
"With this designation, it should go down even more," Kelly said, "but the work they do is not just important for Kansas. Since 2011, KU has treated from 45 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands."
"The real challenge is 85% to 90% of cancer patients get their care outside of a comprehensive center," said Doolittle, who is also an oncologist for the University of Kansas Cancer Center. "So, what we want people to know is that we're collaborating across our region."
Keishera Lately is the business reporter for the Topeka Capital-Journal. She can be reached at Klately@cjonline.com. Follow her on Twitter @Lately_KT.
This article originally appeared on Topeka Capital-Journal: University of Kansas Cancer Center at St. Francis 'comprehensive' center