NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center

Understanding the Importance of ‘Comprehensive’ in Our Name — Comprehensive Cancer Center

An official cancer center designation by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) is the highest federal rating a cancer center can achieve. It’s the gold standard for cancer programs and is bestowed upon the nation’s top cancer centers in recognition of their innovative research and leading-edge treatments. The University of Chicago Medicine has been home to such a designated center since 1973. 

In addition to this National Cancer Institute designation, UChicago Medicine is also recognized for the comprehensive nature of our research, care, education and community outreach programs. We are one of only two institutions in the state of Illinois — and 49 in the United States — to be recognized as a comprehensive cancer center. The application process alone for this honor involved a 1,700-page submission that took more than a year to prepare and must be repeated every five years for renewal.
The comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute are the jewels in the crown of the nation's cancer research and cancer care infrastructure. The NCI recognizes a number of institutions as centers of excellence in delivering innovative and state of the art care for cancer, research, bringing the latest therapies from the laboratory to the patients, research, and education.

It matters because a comprehensive cancer center must meet specific standards in its breadth and depth of cancer research. It means the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center is deemed a model for moving research discoveries, treatments and information from the research setting to our patients and the greater community, setting new standards for care. 

More importantly, however, it matters because of the impact a comprehensive cancer center can have on your care:  According to a 2015 study of individuals with newly diagnosed, adult-onset cancer, patients who were treated at a comprehensive cancer center experienced superior survival rates compared to patients treated at facilities that had not received this designation.

A comprehensive cancer center offers many benefits, including that it:

  • Has already demonstrated, during an intense review process, that it has a critical mass of high-quality collaborative research, strong institutional support, a highly qualified director, appropriate facilities and the capacity to fulfill its research objectives
  • Takes a leadership role in developing new approaches and strategies for preventing and treating cancer
  • Delivers scientific and medical advances to cancer patients, their families, the general public and underserved populations 
  • Instructs health care professionals in a variety of settings, thereby sharing the latest medical and scientific advances with the broader public
  • Taps the latest scientific research to better identify and develop interventions for individuals who are at a high risk for cancer because of genetic, behavioral and environmental factors
  • Seeks to educate all, and in particular those with an elevated risk for cancer, on the importance of a healthy lifestyle and early detection of cancer 

As a designated comprehensive cancer center, UChicago Medicine receives approximately $4 million in annual funding from the National Cancer Institute. This funding supports the infrastructure, management and initiatives that allow us to bring together cancer physicians and scientists from multiple disciplines to make important advances in cancer research and care. This ensures we are national leaders in clinical studies and that we can offer a robust clinical trials program with cancer studies open for enrollment

UChicago Medicine's Comprehensive Cancer Center is proud to be among an elite group of cancer centers acknowledged as the nation’s leaders in the fight against cancer. 

Medical oncologist Sonali Smith, MD, with lymphoma patient, Clayton Harris
Cancer Care Services

With more than 200 cancer specialists, innovative treatments and leading-edge research, we're attacking cancer from every angle.

researcher in cancer lab
Participate in a Clinical Trial

As a lead site for the Clinical Trials Network, we have more than 300 open therapeutic trials and enroll more than 1,000 patients each year.

Mark Ratain, MD, in laboratory
Cancer Research & Innovation

Our physician-scientists are committed to unlocking the mysteries of cancer and are behind some of the most important advances in cancer therapy and research.

Susan Cohn, MD, pediatric oncologist, with young female patient
Pediatric Cancer Care

All of our efforts are dedicated to helping kids and teens with cancer beat the disease, so they can live active, full lives.

Medical oncologist Jane Churpek, MD, and gastroenterologist Sonia Kupfer, MD
Assessing Your Risk for Cancer

We offer comprehensive cancer risk and prevention services, including genetic testing and counseling, and tailored risk reduction plans.

Image of caregiver holding patient's hands, supportive oncology
Helping You Cope With Cancer

The Supportive Oncology program offers a range of services to support you and your family during your cancer treatment.