Comprehensive Cancer Centers:

Their Locations and Role in Demonstration

MWD-76-98: Published: Mar 17, 1976. Publicly Released: Mar 17, 1976.

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Pursuant to the National Cancer Act of 1971, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) designated 17 comprehensive cancer centers across the country. Congress wanted these centers to be hubs of biomedical research, to link basic biomedical researchers and applied clinical care, and to be situated so that the majority of citizens would be within a reasonable distance. NCI estimates that it will take about 31 comprehensive centers to serve about 180 million people. So far, the 17 comprehensive centers have been part of institutions where cancer research programs already exist, and a balanced geographic distribution has not been achieved.

NCI has not given the centers any specific responsibilities to act as focal points, nor evaluated the areas the centers are serving to see if they are reaching as many people as possible or if they are duplicating efforts of other centers. If a center is in a city where several institutions are sponsoring cancer research, the competition among these institutions and the center for Federal research funds raises questions about the practicality of a focal point. NCI has encountered problems where several institutions have been designated as a single comprehensive center.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: NCI should decide on the specific factors that will be used to determine locations of comprehensive cancer centers, balancing the need for geographic distributin with other factors. NCI should then report to the appropriate congressional committees on the effect other factors will have on locations of centers and the feasibility of achieving an appropriate geographic distribution. The role of the comprehensive center as a focal point for demonstration programs should be clarified, and criteria should be established for determining when the centers can act effectively as focal points. In clarifying the role of the centers, the Director of NCI will have to resolve the following problems that limit the effectiveness of the centers: the lack of specific responsibilities for centers; failure to develop liaison between the centers and other contractors in their area, often resulting from competition among research institutions; and the need for defined coverage areas.

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