National Cancer Institute awards Providence Cancer Center $2.8 million to expand research, patient care

April 21, 2011
PORTLAND, Ore. - Providence Cancer Center is being recognized as one of the best community cancer facilities in the nation by the National Cancer Institute. The selection by NCI, part of the National Institutes of Health, brings with it $2.8 million, which will be used over the next two years to fund the expansion of programs at Providence that are making a difference for patients through research and cancer care.

Providence Cancer Center serves more cancer patients than any other health system in Oregon. As a member of the NCI Community Cancer Centers Program, Providence will collaborate with other similarly selected centers across the country. It also will facilitate scientific partnerships with more traditional laboratory-based centers.

Providence Cancer Center is among 14 new sites chosen by NCI to join the national network of community cancer centers offering expanded research opportunities and state-of-the art cancer care. This selection is the first of its type in the Northwest.

These community cancer centers are addressing ways to reduce health care disparities, improve access to clinical trials, improve overall quality of care, promote an infrastructure to collect blood and tissue samples, and link with national computer networks that support research. The centers also work to improve survivorship, palliative care services, and patient advocacy.

The NCI program is designed to create new research opportunities in a variety of areas, from screening and treatment to follow-up care, with an emphasis on minority and underserved populations. Expanding the network will provide access to more patients in community cancer centers to support these research efforts.

The ongoing commitment of Providence Health & Services, coupled with the NCI award, will bring new resources to help Providence Cancer Center grow to meet needs of people with cancer in Oregon and Southwest Washington.

"We are proud to become part of this important network of the National Cancer Institute, and we welcome the opportunity to continue to deliver and improve cancer care and cancer research for patients in all the communities we serve," said Dave Underriner, chief executive of Providence's Portland Service Area. "We will work hard to ensure that this award and increased support translates into improved and more science-based cancer care for our patients."

This effort will be led by Walter Urba, M.D., Ph.D., medical director of Providence Cancer Center.

The NCI Community Cancer Centers Program encompasses hospitals serving largely rural, suburban, small-town and underserved urban populations. NCI is using $40 million in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to expand its number of community hospital-based sites from 16 to 30.

"This recognition is great news for Oregon," said U.S. Rep. David Wu. "Cancer patients from the coast to Portland and beyond will benefit, and I am pleased that there will be a focus on underserved and diverse populations. Once again, our state is being recognized for excellence in health care research and the importance of community cancer centers such as Providence Cancer Center."

The complete list of sites in the NCI Community Cancer Centers Program can be found at ncccp.cancer.gov.