Cancer center designation: Implications for interventional radiologists

R. Schwind, R.C. Gaba, L. Schook, L. Rund, C.E. Ray
Society of Interventional Radiology 41st Annual Scientific Meeting, April 2-7, 2016, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Learning Objectives:

  • To recognize the different NCI designations for cancer centers and the differences between each type of center;

  • To understand the requirements for institutions to obtain NCI cancer center designation;

  • To understand the opportunities for interventional radiologists (IRs) to help institutions obtain NCI cancer center designation, and the specific advantages to IRs working at NCI cancer centers



The National Cancer Institute is one of 11 agencies of the National Institutes of Health. Although the NCI supports its own intramural research programs, the vast majority of its budget goes towards funding of extramural research.


Clinical Findings/Procedure Details:

In addition to funding research, the NCI, via P30 grant funding, designates institutions as cancer centers of excellence in three tiers: comprehensive centers, clinical centers, and basic laboratory centers. Comprehensive cancer centers must not only provide diagnostic and therapeutic opportunities for patients, but must also conduct early phase and NCI cooperative group clinical trials; conduct laboratory based research; provide outreach and education to the community catchment area; and disseminate scientific advancements to both providers and the general public. There are six essential characteristics that the NCI judges prior to designating a center: cancer focus; center director; institutional commitment; transdisciplinary collaboration; facilities; and organizational capabilities. IRs may play a major role in fulfilling nearly all of these requirements, particularly with regard to transdisciplinary collaboration. With the expanding role for IRs within clinical cancer care, there are opportunities to disseminate knowledge of IR procedures and techniques within cancer center research programs and multi-disciplinary tumor board conferences. In addition, extramural grant mechanisms through the NCI provide numerous opportunities for IR-centric basic, translational, and clinical research.


Conclusion and/or Teaching Points:

As the role of IR continues to expand into the oncology space, familiarity with the NCI designations and funding mechanisms will help provide opportunities for IRs to become familiar with the as possibilities for funding of collaborative and translational research.