News Release

UArizona Cancer Center receives highest NCI designation as Comprehensive Cancer Center

As the only Comprehensive Cancer Center in Arizona, the University of Arizona Cancer Center conducts state-of-the-art research focused on developing new and better approaches to preventing, diagnosing and treating cancer.

Grant and Award Announcement

University of Arizona Health Sciences

TUCSON, Arizona — The National Cancer Institute (NCI) recently renewed the University of Arizona Cancer Center’s status as an NCI-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center and the corresponding support grant for a new five-year period.

The UArizona Cancer Center is one of 53 Comprehensive Cancer Centers designated by the NCI and the only one in Arizona. The designation is the highest awarded by the NCI.

“We achieved redesignation as an NCI-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center because we meet the highest standards for providing cancer care to our patients and conducting cancer research,” said Joann Sweasy, PhD, the Nancy C. and Craig M. Berge Endowed Chair and UArizona Cancer Center director. “We know that patients treated at NCI-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers experience better outcomes, and we are able to offer cutting-edge treatments that can truly be lifesaving for our patients.”

Each NCI-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center focuses its research, community engagement and outreach on a specific geographic area, or catchment.

“Since the last renewal period, we characterized the cancer burden of our catchment area through our Office of Community Outreach and Engagement,” Dr. Sweasy said. “This helped us better define our catchment and prioritize research focused on the cancer burdens that our diverse communities face.”

The center’s catchment area has a highly diverse population that is 50% non-Hispanic white, 39% Hispanic and 2.5% American Indian/Alaskan Native (AI/AN). Individuals in the catchment area are affected by several significant cancer risk factors including obesity, low rates of cancer screening and environmental exposures.

The UArizona Cancer Center prioritizes five cancers of greatest concern to its catchment, including gastrointestinal cancer, genitourinary cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer and melanoma.  

The UArizona Cancer Center emphasizes transdisciplinary collaboration around three scientific themes: cancer and the environment, cancer imaging and bioengineering, and novel therapeutics and preventive interventions. More than 150 members include faculty from 36 departments across 11 UArizona colleges.  

Working with its clinical partner, Banner — University Medicine in Tucson, the UArizona Cancer Center has several research locations. The UArizona Cancer Center clinics, part of the Banner — University Medical Center Tucson, have two clinical and research locations: the Cancer Center North Campus and the Cancer Center Orange Grove Campus. These locations house comprehensive oncology multi-disciplinary care clinics, including medical, surgical, radiation oncology, clinical trials, supportive care services and prevention clinics. Chad Whelan, MD, is the president of the Banner — University Medicine Division.

“The renewal of our support grant is due to the teamwork exhibited by the leadership and members of our Cancer Center, as well as the strong institutional support conveyed by Dr. Michael Dake and University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins, MD,” Dr. Sweasy said. “Additionally, we are incredibly thankful for the support of Dr. Whelan and the remarkable relationship we have with Banner — University Medicine Tucson.”

The UArizona Cancer Center was established in 1976 when it received its first NCI Cancer Center Support Grant. The support grant has been renewed in every renewal period since, including in 1990 when the UArizona Cancer Center received the “comprehensive” designation for the first time. That status has been maintained ever since.

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Reporters and editors: Please note that the University of Arizona Health Sciences is separately recognized from the University of Arizona, similar to other academic health centers across the country. The preferred first reference is University of Arizona Health Sciences; the preferred second reference is UArizona Health Sciences

Media contact:
Mark Febbo
University of Arizona Cancer Center

About the University of Arizona Health Sciences
Located on campuses in Tucson, Phoenix and Gilbert, Arizona, the University of Arizona Health Sciences is one of the top-ranked academic medical centers in the southwestern United States. UArizona Health Sciences includes the College of Medicine – Phoenix, College of Medicine – Tucson, College of Nursing, Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, R. Ken Coit College of Pharmacy, and Health Sciences Global and Online. In addition, 16 UArizona Health Sciences centers and programs focus on cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, pain and addiction, and respiratory diseases; biomedical informatics, health technology innovation and simulation training; and health disparities, precision health care and treatments, and pandemic preparedness. A leader in next-generation education, research, clinical care and public outreach, UArizona Health Sciences employs nearly 5,000 people, has approximately 4,000 students and 900 faculty members, and garners more than $220 million in research grants and contracts annually. For more information: (Follow us: Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | LinkedIn | Instagram).

About the University of Arizona Cancer Center
The University of Arizona Cancer Center is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center with headquarters in Arizona. The UArizona Cancer Center is supported by NCI Cancer Center Support Grant No. CA023074. With its primary location at the University of Arizona in Tucson, the Cancer Center has more than a dozen research and education offices throughout the state, with more than 300 physicians and scientists working together to prevent and cure cancer. For more information: (Follow us: Facebook | Twitter | YouTube).

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