Where you seek cancer care matters

At the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center, we often talk about our many designations and recognitions. But what do these actually mean to you? Here’s why they are important to you and our patients. 

National Cancer Institute-designated Center

The Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center is Nebraska’s only cancer center designated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and one of only 71 in the country. It is jointly operated by Nebraska Medicine and the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC). 

Why is this significant? The NCI is the government’s lead agency for cancer research. NCI- designated cancer centers are recognized nationally for their scientific excellence and commitment to cancer treatment and research that focus on the development of more effective approaches to cancer prevention, diagnosis and therapy.

This is a fitting designation for the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center. The center's mission is to lead our nation's research efforts to improve cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis and survivorship. 

“Our goal is to be a national leader in cancer research and clinical care and one of the leading cancer centers in the country,” says Ken Cowan, MD, PhD, director of the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center. “We’re not content with just being a part of these exciting developments in cancer care, we want to be pioneering and leading these new advances.”

This goal was foremost of mind when the center was built and opened in 2017. The structure’s design integrates high-tech clinical medicine with research to accelerate new therapies for patients by allowing scientists and clinicians to work together in one building as a team. This daily collaboration facilitates the flow of information and idea-sharing. It ultimately accelerates the transfer of scientific discoveries from the lab into new treatments that will benefit patients.

When it comes to cancer, receiving care from a medical center that is deeply embedded in research is crucial. Research is one of the driving forces to advancing cancer treatment, says Aparkishor Ganti, MD, medical oncologist and associate director of clinical trials at Nebraska Medicine and UNMC. “For patients, a research-focused medical center means greater access to the most advanced and innovative cancer treatments available,” he says. 

National Cancer Center Network member

Nebraska Medicine is also one of the founding members of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), a non-profit alliance of 30 of the world’s leading cancer centers devoted to patient care, research and education. These medical centers are dedicated to improving and facilitating quality, effective, efficient and accessible cancer care so patients can live better lives. 

Each member of the NCCN may appoint an expert physician from their institution to become a member of one of many panels representing various cancer disease processes. These panels are responsible for developing and updating the screening and treatment guidelines for these disease processes by reviewing the most recent clinical trials, published articles and presentations at national cancer meetings. 

“We have many experts from the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center on these panels,” says Quan Ly, MD, Nebraska Medicine surgical oncologist. “It’s a big responsibility. They are the ones writing the guidelines on how to best treat specific cancers using the most current treatments and research evidence. Being a part of these panels ensures our patients are receiving the most up-to-date and innovative care available.” 

Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium

Nebraska Medicine is also a founding member of the Big Ten Cancer Research ConsortiumMembers include medical centers and researchers who are affiliated with Big Ten universities across the country.

The goal of the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium is to create a unique team-research culture to drive science rapidly from ideas to new approaches to cancer treatment. Within this innovative environment, today’s research leaders collaborate with and mentor the research leaders of tomorrow with the unified goal of improving the lives of all patients with cancer.

This group's benefits include participating in clinical trial working groups, consolidating review and approval of new clinical trials, sharing specimens with clinically recorded data, mentoring junior faculty, and quickly opening trials across 15 member academic institutions. As a group, the Big Ten cancer centers each year support the work of 2,600 researchers, care for more than 50,000 new cancer patients and enroll 20,000 participants in clinical trials. 

U.S. News & World Report ranking

Another important measure of the Fred & Pamela Cancer Center’s accomplishments is the annual U.S. News & World Report ranking. Each year, U.S. News & World Report evaluates more than 4,500 hospitals nationwide to develop their annual list of Best Hospitals. Our cancer program received a national ranking of #34, placing our cancer center among the most elite hospitals in the nation, along with MD Anderson, Sloan Kettering, Cleveland Clinic and Johns Hopkins. Our colon cancer and lung cancer surgery programs were rated as “high performing,” the highest ranking possible.

“We are extremely honored to be recognized on this list for our cancer care,” says Dr. Ly. “This validates our expertise and gives patients another reason to trust that they will receive world-class care at all of our hospitals and health centers across the region.”

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