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National Cancer Institute Cancer Center Program Information

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) Cancer Center Program supports research-oriented facilities across the United States that are known for their scientific excellence and their ability to pull together and focus many kinds of research approaches on the cancer problem. The NCI Cancer Center Program includes more than 65 cancer centers that take part in research to help reduce cancer rates and deaths from cancer.

The Cancer Centers Program is supported by NCI staff in the Office of Cancer Centers. These staff members consult with cancer centers and groups wishing to apply to become NCI-designated Cancer Centers. They share information with these future Cancer Centers about the program policies and the research priorities of the National Cancer Institute.

Two types of cancer centers are supported through cancer center grants.

NCI-designated Cancer Centers

NCI-designated Cancer Centers are defined as cancer centers that focus on some combination of:

  • Laboratory research (studies on cells or animals)
  • Population science (looking at large groups of people for cancer prevention and control)
  • Clinical research (clinical trials to test new cancer treatments on volunteers)

Some cancer centers that focus on lab research do not care for patients.

NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers

Those facilities that go even further can earn the title NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers. They must conduct coordinated, high-quality programs in all 3 areas of research listed above. Plus, they must have a strong body of interactive research that bridges these different areas.

Comprehensive cancer centers must put their cancer research to work, helping with cancer prevention and cancer care. They must also offer education for health care professionals and the general public. To be recognized by the NCI as a Comprehensive Cancer Center, an institution must pass rigorous review.

All of the Comprehensive Cancer Centers see patients for cancer treatment.

Contact information

The NCI’s most current list of accredited institutions can be found online at: www.cancer.gov/researchandfunding/extramural/cancercenters/find-a-cancer-center.


Last Medical Review: 11/05/2014
Last Revised: 11/10/2014