One Year after NCI Designation.
Last July we witnessed the culmination of years of tireless work by the faculty and staff of the Markey Cancer Center when we proudly announced that the Markey had achieved NCI designation, which places it in an elite group of cancer centers throughout the country that have demonstrated the requisite excellence in patient care, research, and education. The Markey joined 67 other NCI-designated Cancer Centers and is the only NCI-designated Cancer Center in Kentucky. Over this past year the Markey continues to grow and serve an even larger population within our state and region.
In 2014, the Markey Cancer Center saw nearly 150 more new patients compared to the previous year with total patient visits increasing from roughly 75,000 last year to more than 85,000 this year, which marks a 29% increase in patient visits compared to just 5 years ago. In particular Markey’s Outpatient Clinics are growing. The Comprehensive Breast Care Center, the Multi-disciplinary Clinic, and the Gynecology Oncology Clinic saw unique patient growth of 29%, 10%, and 5% respectively over the past year. With this increase in patient volume we are currently recruiting clinicians and other specialists who can care for this increased number of cancer patients. Markey already has a vast team of specialists that now include a bevy of new team members added in the past year, including four medical oncologists, three hematology and blood-and-marrow transplantation specialists, three surgical oncologists, two genitourinary cancer surgeons, two oral and maxillofacial surgeons, and a specialist in oncofertility, a new program that has just been started at the Markey Cancer Center.
Recruiting strong researchers is a major aspect of earning and maintaining NCI designation and this year Markey landed a major, established research team in metabolomics. Drs. Rick Higashi, Hunter Moseley, Teresa Fan, and Andrew Lane joined Markey last fall, bringing with them more than $18 million in funding. One major focus of the team’s work is to develop early diagnostic approaches for lung cancer based on metabolism markers, which is especially important in Kentucky where we have the distinction of being Number 1 in lung cancer incidence and mortality in the country. Over the past 2 years, Markey has increased its funding from the NCI by 27%. Overall, since the end of calendar year 2012, Markey’s total research funding from both peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed sources has increased by $7.3 million.
Additionally, Markey researchers continue to push major findings out to their peers in academia. In 2014, Markey investigators published 528 scientific articles, which is 49 more than the previous year. Although the Markey is based in Lexington, we strive to provide access to top-notch cancer care across the state and throughout our region through our Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network. The affiliate network is a group of health care facilities that provide high quality cancer services and programs in their communities with the support and guidance of the Markey Cancer Center, allowing patients to receive their care closer to home. Since Markey earned NCI designation, demand for new affiliations has grown. Two new ARH Hospitals will be added this summer, moving Markey farther into Eastern Kentucky, an under-served area known for some of the worst rates of cancer incidence and deaths in the country. Additionally, evaluations are underway for 7 other hospitals, including 2 outside the state of Kentucky, extending Markey’s reach even farther and establishing it as the destination cancer center for the region.
Our progress in the past year has been spectacular, but we can and should do more. As the only NCI- designated cancer center in Kentucky it is our responsibility to be the leader in cancer care, to seek out new ways to improve rates of cancer incidence and death in the state, and to make sure we can also offer the best possible care for our patients right here in Kentucky. We are by no means resting on our laurels and have as a goal to achieve comprehensive status with our next renewal application which will be in 4 years. To earn this top level of designation, cancer centers must show a depth and breadth of research in each of 3 major areas: laboratory, clinical, and population-based research, as well as substantial trans-disciplinary research that bridges these scientific areas. In order to achieve this goal we will need continued, outstanding support from our Markey Cancer Foundation, which has been the source of significant philanthropic support over the past years. Philanthropic support is needed now more than ever to recruit additional investigators and clinicians and to provide and maintain state-of-the-art facilities for research and clinical care. We greatly appreciate all that the Markey Cancer Foundation does to support the cancer center, and look forward to working together to continue to grow our clinical and research programs, our outreach capabilities, and the outstanding cancer care that we offer to individuals throughout the state of Kentucky and our region.
B. Mark Evers, MD
Director, Markey Cancer Center