Blunt, Moran, Roberts lead efforts for University of Kansas Cancer Center to be given special designation

U.S. Sens. Roy Blunt (R-MO), Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Pat Roberts (R-KS) recently took the lead in advocating for the University of Kansas Cancer Center be deemed a “comprehensive cancer center” by the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

The lawmakers sent a letter to Dr. Douglas Lowy, the acting director at NCI, in support of the bi-state University of Kansas Cancer Center, which includes the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, to be designated a comprehensive cancer center. Designated comprehensive cancer centers are renowned for leadership, resources and depth of research in basic, clinical or population science.

“In the KU Cancer Center catchment area, which includes 105 counties in Kansas and 18 counties in western Missouri, it is estimated that over 22,000 people will be diagnosed with cancer, and more than 8,500 people will die from cancer in 2016,” the letter states. “Cancer causes approximately 15 deaths per day in both Kansas and western Missouri, and accounts for approximately 22 percent of all deaths. Cancer is the leading cause of death in Kansas and this has been the case since 2010.”

A division of the National Institutes of Health, the NCI is the government’s primary agency tasked with addressing research and training needs pertaining to the cause, diagnosis and treatment of cancers.

“… KUCC will continue to be a critically important regional and national asset in the fight against cancer,” the letter states. “Prior to NCI designation in 2012, many Kansas residents often had to drive several hundred miles to access the nearest NCI designated cancer center. KUCC can further aid cancer patients by obtaining Comprehensive Cancer status, which will propel their ability to discover, develop and deliver innovative therapies to patients.”

Blunt added that the University of Kansas Cancer Center and the Stowers Institute for Medical Research are at the forefront of cutting-edge biomedical research. As chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that funds the Department of Health and Human Services, Blunt also has advocated for increased resources for NCI.

“Designating KUCC as a comprehensive cancer center will enhance its ability to drive progress toward new, life-saving cures and strengthen the role the entire Kansas City biomedical community plays in cancer research,” Blunt said.