KU Cancer Center’s bid for designation upgrade denied; partnership with Children’s Mercy approved

The University of Kansas Cancer Center's Bloch Radiation Oncology Pavilion is pictured June 11, 2017. The facility is located on the KU Medical Center Campus, 3901 Rainbow Blvd. in Kansas City, Kan.

The University of Kansas Cancer Center’s application to upgrade its National Cancer Institute status has been denied, though the NCI did renew KU’s national cancer center designation for another five years, the university announced Thursday.

That same day, KU Cancer Center officials also announced the approval of Children’s Mercy as a cancer center consortium partner.

As part of a multiyear effort, the KU Cancer Center submitted an application last September seeking renewal of its National Cancer Institute designation, the addition of Children’s Mercy as a consortium partner, and consideration for the Comprehensive Cancer Center status.

“We are very pleased to have our National Cancer Institute designation renewed and to have our application for Children’s Mercy to join our consortium approved,” Roy Jensen, KU Cancer Center director, said in a news release. “We were disappointed but not surprised to learn that we did not receive comprehensive status.”

On average, Jensen said, it takes an NCI-designated cancer center 15 years to achieve comprehensive status. KU Cancer Center received its designation only five years ago.

The recent renewal of KU’s designation will result in an 11 percent funding increase from NCI to the KU Cancer Center, which improved its overall score from “excellent” to “outstanding,” according to KU’s news release.

The KU Cancer Center is one of 69 NCI-designated cancer centers across the country, and, as of February 2017, had raised $453 million since 2004 in pursuit of the upgraded designation. The center will be able to renew its status and re-apply for the Comprehensive designation in 2021.

Overall, though, KU leaders said they were encouraged by the recent awards.

“The increased funding is a testament to the National Cancer Institute’s confidence in our Cancer Center,” KU Chancellor Douglas Girod said in a statement. “Going forward, the NCI feedback on our application provides us with a roadmap to ultimately achieve Comprehensive status.”