The National Cancer Act @ 50: The First "Cancer Centers"

Research at MSK

2021 marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the National Cancer Act

For fifty years, the National Cancer Act has helped fuel breakthroughs in fundamental biological science that have turned the tide against many forms of cancer. But this piece of legislation also accomplished another feat: it coalesced a national program against cancer, which had never existed before. This included the establishment of NCI-designated cancer centers, as the NCI highlighted recently as part of their commemoration of the National Cancer Act.

When the National Cancer Act was implemented, MSK was one of only three institutions in the country to be designated a Comprehensive Cancer Center, charged with translating laboratory research results into clinical practice. Fifty years later, MSK proudly maintains this designation – now along with 50 other institutions – due to its leadership and resources, depth and breadth of research in basic, clinical, prevention, cancer control, and population science, and substantial transdisciplinary research that bridges these scientific areas.

The National Cancer Act’s support has helped MSK and other NCI-designated cancer centers and comprehensive cancer centers sustain continued progress against cancer, all to the benefit of patients. Presently, MSK maintains a dynamic research enterprise – supported in part by the NCI – that aims to generate transformative and more-affordable treatments for people everywhere. In fact, research at MSK has produced ten drugs approved by the FDA for marketing, impacting millions of patients. And at any given time, MSK clinicians lead hundreds of clinical trials for pediatric and adult cancers that pave the way for more approved therapies.