Man comforting woman with cancer

A Comprehensive Cancer Center: What Does it Mean for You?

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UVA Health has the first cancer center in Virginia named a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). We are among the elite centers in the United States to receive the NCI's highest designation. 

What is 'Comprehensive'?

This designation means we’re leaders in cancer research, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. Our programs serve 3.2 million people in Virginia and eastern West Virginia. Our groundbreaking research helps us bring you:

  • More targeted life-saving therapies
  • Advanced diagnostics to catch cancer earlier
  • The most up-to-date knowledge to prevent cancer
  • Robust clinical trials with access to the latest treatments

How does 'comprehensive' help you? It means you get 360 degree care. You'll benefit from every aspect of our knowledge and experience in treating cancer.



Director of UVA Cancer Center Tom Loughran, MD, and gynecologic oncologist Linda Duska, MD, explain the criteria for the designation and how UVA Cancer Center exceeds in these areas. View NCI-designation transcript.

Groundbreaking Research

Funding for cancer research at UVA totals more than $30 million each year. Our research is organized around four programs:

  • Cancer Biology: This program works to understand what happens at a cellular level for cancer to develop and spread in the body. Researchers can then make treatments that stop cancer by targeting these processes.
  • Molecular Genetics and Epigenetics: This program looks at how DNA changes lead to cancer. This kind of research recently led to new treatments. But there are many more targets for researchers to discover.
  • Cancer Therapeutics: This programs turns research discoveries into new treatments. It also works to stop the most common and deadly cancers in Virginia and eastern West Virginia. These include breast, colorectal, lung, and skin cancers.
  • Cancer Control and Population Health: Researchers identify barriers to cancer prevention and treatment in underserved areas.

Robust Clinical Trials

In recent years, we’ve more than doubled the number of people enrolled in our clinical trials. Clinical trials give you access to the latest treatments.

For example, we recently participated in the first National Institutes of Health-sponsored study for CAR T-cell therapy to treat pediatric leukemia. That clinical trial gave children early access to this advanced therapy.

Find clinical trials.

Life-Saving Therapies

We continuously research and develop new treatments for cancer.

Our research into leukemia and lymphoma led to new treatments that improved outcomes for patients who didn’t have treatment options before. Many patients, even those for whom traditional treatments didn’t work, now experience remission because of these new treatments.

We continue to pioneer ways to use targeted drugs that deliver faster and better results.

See our cancer treatments.

Better Care for Virginians and Beyond

We’re working to break down barriers to cancer prevention and treatment in underserved areas. We expanded access to colorectal cancer screenings in southwest Virginia after we learned more people in this area get colorectal cancer than other regions. UVA, along with three partner institutions, also received a $14 million NCI grant to study why rates of cervical cancer are higher in Appalachia.

See all our outreach efforts.

Care Focused on You

We treat the whole person, not just their cancer. We work to connect with you as an individual, making sure your treatment matches your personal goals and values. We also focus on your well-being, giving you and your family emotional support all along the way.

Learn more about our support services