University of Colorado Cancer Center garners NCI ‘comprehensive’ title


AURORA | The University of Colorado Cancer Center has earned a national designation as a comprehensive cancer center, a prestigious title that carries about $18 million in funding in the next five years.

For the fourth time since 1997, the National Cancer Institute has named the University of Colorado Cancer Center a Comprehensive Cancer Center. Less than 50 centers nationwide carry that title; the Cancer Center headquartered at the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora is the only facility in Colorado to have earned the Comprehensive Cancer Center title.

That title carries grants of about $3.5 million for the next five years, Cancer Center officials say.

“The leading places all have comprehensive designations. The better you are, the bigger you are, the more likely you are to get the comprehensive designation,” said Dan Theodorescu, CU Cancer Center director. “They look at whether you have a prevention control program, screening, early detection … The comprehensive designation means that we receive money from the National Cancer Institute.”

The NCI implemented its four-year review process for the Cancer Center in 2011. The standards for the designation include expertise in laboratory, clinical, behavioral and population-based research.

In addition to its comprehensive title, the Cancer Center received a rare designation as a “consortium” designation, indicating that the facility is in a network that includes multiple universities. That network includes the University of Colorado Denver, University of Colorado Boulder and Colorado State University.

In 1987, the NCI designated the CU Cancer Center as a clinical cancer center. In 1997, it received its first “comprehensive” title and in 2005, it earned its first “consortium” designation.

Earlier this year, Cancer Center officials celebrated the addition of about 40,000 square-feet of new space to the center, an expansion that included a five-story buildout on the north side of the building. The new space includes a new radiation therapy vault, 18 new chemotherapy infusion bays and 13 new exam rooms; it brings the total size of the facility to about 148,000 square feet. The $20 million in funding is also slated to bring in from 200 to 250 new, full-time employees.

“We’ve obviously had the expansion, but obviously the most exciting thing is that we have a hospital network now,” Theodorescu said, adding that the center can share resources with sites in Fort Collins and Colorado Springs. “We can deploy clinical trials throughout the network.”