The University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) was founded in 1984, and it is the only Cancer Center of its kind in Western Pennsylvania. In a close affiliation with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), the UPCI provides advanced forms of cancer education, treatment, and research services to the residents of Pennsylvania, as well as to cancer patients from around the globe. The UPCI treats all forms of adult and pediatric cancers using the latest in surgical, chemotherapy, and radiation therapies.
The UPCI is affiliated with over 2,300 UPMC physicians, health care support personnel, and research scientists, all of whom contribute to one of the nation’s largest Cancer Centers. In 2007, the UPCI received over $200 million in research grants, and the Pennsylvania medical facility was ranked 10th in research funding from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The UPCI was recently ranked 12th in the nation in the U.S. News and World Report’s “Best of the Best” listing of America’s Cancer Centers.
A National Network of Cancer Education, Treatment, and Research Centers
In the early 1960s, the NCI began to draft a plan that would address the country’s need for a national network of cancer centers. The NCI envisioned a coast to coast, north to south network of institutions that would lead the fight against cancer in America. The NCI plan was eventually presented to Congress, and in 1971, the National Cancer Act (NCA) was signed into law by President Nixon. Today, the United States benefits from 63 National Cancer Centers, and of this number, only 41 have been granted the NCI designation of ‘Comprehensive Cancer Center’ (CCC). The UPCI is one of the nation’s Comprehensive Cancer Centers, and as such, it meets or exceeds stringent NCI guidelines that govern the granting of a CCC accreditation.
Cancer Research at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute
All of the country’s National Cancer Centers are under an NCI mandate to carry out extensive cancer research programs that run parallel to an institution’s cancer education, prevention, and treatment programs. Researchers at the UPCI seek new ways to prevent and treat cancer while simultaneously striving towards the ultimate goal of a cure for the disease. Bench (laboratory) and clinical (patient involved) researchers at the UPCI have organized their research efforts under the following branches of scientific investigation:
- Biobehavioral Medicine Program: Scientists in this program concentrate on the connection between the mind/brain and cancer. The goal is to better understand what nexus might exist between neurological pathways that effect behaviors such as smoking, voluntary exposure to other environmental hazards, a willingness to adhere to treatment requirements, etc., and how this interconnectivity may be utilized to develop better therapies to prevent and treat cancer.
- Brain Tumor Program: An interdisciplinary research program that utilizes basic clinical and biological research in a translational effort to apply clinical findings to the development of safe and effective cancer fighting therapies. Studies on the cellular and molecular level look at DNA mutations that can lead to malignant disease, as well as a host of other factors that contribute to the formation of tumors within the brain.
- Cancer Epidemiology, Prevention, and Control Program: Scientists here look at the origins of many types of cancer within specific populations. Behavioral and environmental factors are studied to discover new and better ways to reduce the incidence of cancer through cancer education, increased screenings, early detection, and pharmacologically-based cancer prevention therapies.
- Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy, and immunopreventive program: The focus here is on the myriad mechanisms that effect the body’s immune system, as well as the various factors that govern cancer cell resistance to new and existing therapies to control cancer cell formation and growth.
- Head and Neck Cancer Program: Laboratory studies that concentrate on the genetic and cellular mutations that lead to squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck.
- Lung and Thoracic Malignancies Program: Researchers concentrate on new ways to facilitate early detection of lung cancer while developing better methods of identifying individuals who may be at high risk for the disease. These findings lead to translational research dedicated to the development of novel therapies to prevent and treat the disease.
- Molecular and Cell Biology Program: Scientists study cancer on the cellular and genetic (DNA) level to better understand the many normal cellular processes that are disrupted in cancer cells.
- Molecular Therapeutics and Drug Discovery Program: Preclinical and clinical studies designed to discover and develop drug and other therapies that will be effective on solid tumors and hematologic malignant disease such as leukemia and lymphoma.
- Molecular Virology Program: It’s estimated that viruses contribute to 10-15% of all cancers that occur globally, yet traditional research programs have neglected to give these viral cancers the attention they deserve. A variety of research techniques are utilized in this program to better understand the viral genesis of cancers such as those that lead to AIDS related malignancies.
- Prostate and Urologic Cancers Program: Human and animal studies that seek to better understand the deficiencies of current therapies for prostate and urologic cancers while developing new and better treatments for the disease.
Patient Care at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute
The UPCI offers its cancer treatments at numerous locations throughout the state of Pennsylvania. Over 180 oncologists are affiliated with the Cancer Center that provides patients with highly specialized, state-of-the-art therapies for the dozens of variations of the disease. Select patients at the UPCI are afforded the opportunity to participate in one of the many clinical trials that are offered at the Pittsburgh medical facility and its UPMC satellite hospitals that fan out over a 200 mile radius from the university campus. Additionally, the UPCI provides cancer patients with a wide variety of treatment support services such as patient and family counseling services that relate to virtually every aspect of cancer education, prevention, and treatment of the disease.
Contact the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute
The main phone number is (412) 647-2811, and for a more complete phone listing directory or to learn more about the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, please visit their website at www.upci.upmc.edu
University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute
5150 Centre Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15232
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