What To Know After Diagnosis

How to find an National Cancer Institute-Designated Cancer Center

All National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers can be found using the link HERE. From there, you can see a breakdown of NCI cancer centers by state, which might be closest to you and which centers are Comprehensive Cancer Centers. This list shows all of the designated cancer centers, the majority of which have received V Foundation funding.

All Comprehensive Cancer Centers now have patient navigators that can be extremely helpful with the scheduling process. Appointments can be easily scheduled online at the cancer centers’ websites. Typically, there is a ‘Make an Appointment’ button or link that is either on the main page, or under a ‘Patient’ tab. If you are unable to schedule an appointment online, there should be a phone number to call.

If you do not live in an area near an NCI-designated center or a Comprehensive Cancer Center, seek medical expertise at your local medical center. The most important thing is being seen by a provider and seen quickly.

Why should I consider being seen at a National Cancer Institute-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center?

The V Foundation has funded over $353 million in cancer research grants to the best-of-the-best researchers across the country. How do we do this? We invite the best researchers at the NCI’s Designated Cancer Centers and other exceptional research institutions to apply for our V Scholar, Translational and All-Star awards.

We believe these research facilities lead the way in oncology research and treatment, because they’ve met the rigorous criteria required to be given this designation by the National Institutes of Health. It’s a well-respected stamp of approval that is very difficult to obtain, keep and maintain. These facilities are the best.

A Comprehensive Cancer Center is a particular designation given by the NCI to only 56 preeminent institutions in the U.S. According to the National Cancer Institute’s website, this designation means the institution is “recognized for their leadership and resources, in addition to demonstrating an added depth and breadth of research, as well as substantial transdisciplinary research that bridges these scientific areas.”3

These outstanding institutions are where the top cancer researchers want to work because they are recognized as being the world leaders in the research space. These places also have the best facilities and tools. Because of this, the treatment at these institutions is exceptional.

For patient care, Comprehensive Cancer Centers offer a couple of unique characteristics. First, many of these centers hold ‘tumor boards’ which are like collaborative team meetings between the researchers and clinicians at the centers. These meetings allow the physicians to present cases to one another for other opinions within the same center. This is extremely valuable, knowing that your case is not just being seen by one of the top researchers in the country, but multiple. Second, you may have access to clinical trials through Comprehensive Cancer Centers.

Not every patient needs to participate in clinical trials, but the ability to have access to clinical trials can be very important, and assures that your clinician is aware of some of the recent advancements in cancer research. Available clinical trials can be searched on the website of the National Institutes of Health HERE5.

Should I get a second opinion?

The information coming at you or a loved one when diagnosed with cancer can be extremely overwhelming. What is the correct course of treatment? Should I seek a second opinion? Would a different medical center have a different plan? Ultimately, these are difficult questions that someone must answer.

Seeking a second opinion for something as complex as cancer is never a bad thing. Many researchers and clinical physicians suggest it and are completely in support of second opinions. If you do choose to seek a second opinion, we suggest seeking one at a Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Because of the emergence in telehealth during COVID, second opinions at Comprehensive Cancer Centers can often be done remotely. Determine which cancer centers might have specialists or experience in the type of cancer you or a loved one are facing.

Once you’ve selected a Comprehensive Cancer Center to get a second opinion, visit their website online to book. Nearly all websites have a ‘Make an Appointment’ link to allow you to enter your information about getting a second opinion. Sometimes, like requesting an appointment originally, this can fall under the ‘Patient’ tab.

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