Dr. Evers highlights Markey’s accomplishments in ‘State of the Cancer Center’ address

Dr. Mark Evers, director of the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center, gave his annual “State of the Cancer Center” address today at Markey Research Day, highlighting the center’s major accomplishments in patient care, recruitment, research and outreach from the past year.

“Markey is making great strides in both clinical care and research, and we plan to continue that trend moving forward,” Evers said. “Kentucky is still home to the worst cancer rates in the country, and we will continue to expand our reach and provide acute-level cancer care for not just Kentuckians, but patients from neighboring states and even across the country who are seeking services only we can provide.”

Patient care at Markey

Patient growth continued to increase in the past year, with more than 94,000 outpatient visits, a four percent increase over 2015 visits and a 42 percent increase since Evers’ arrival in 2009. In addition, the number of analytic cancer cases seen by Markey doctors has nearly doubled – 49 percent – since 2009.

Markey’s five-year survival rates for lung, brain, prostate, liver and ovarian cancers are higher than the SEER (Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results) Program national average. In particular, Markey’s liver cancer survival rates are outstanding, with a 27 percent five-year-survival rate versus the SEER Program national average of 16 percent.

Cancer research

Cancer funding continues to increase, with Markey bringing in $43 million in funds from the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, and other peer-reviewed and non-peer reviewed sources – a $5 million increase in research funding over the previous year.

Under a new partnership with the NCI-designated cancer center at The Ohio State University, Markey will be a phase I and II trial site for OSU’s NCI-sponsored UM1 grant, providing access to new clinical trials for Markey patients. The goal is to develop the most effective dose and schedules for further therapeutic investigation of new anticancer agents that will be tested in late phase clinical trials by the National Clinical Trials Network

In early 2015, the cancer center launched the Markey Cancer Center Research Network (MCCRN), a new initiative conducting high priority cancer research through a network of collaborative centers with expertise in the delivery of cancer care and conduct of research studies. Medical centers participating in the MCCRN will have the opportunity to either conduct appropriate clinical trials for their population on-site or have a quick line of referral to Markey for trial participation.

Currently, the MCCRN has four sites on board, with several more to join over the next year:

  • King’s Daughters Medical Center, Ashland
  • Hardin Memorial Health, Elizabethtown
  • St. Claire Regional Medical Center, Morehead
  • St. Mary’s Regional Cancer Center, Huntington, W.Va

Markey’s reach across the state

Though based in Lexington, Markey also strives to provide access to top-notch cancer care across the state and beyond through the Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network (MCCAN). The MCCAN is a group of healthcare facilities that provide high-quality cancer services and programs in their communities with the support and guidance of the UK Markey Cancer Center, allowing patients to receive their care closer to home.

Currently, the MCCAN comprises 16 medical centers across the state of Kentucky:

  • Clark Regional Medical Center, Winchester
  • Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center, Danville
  • Frankfort Regional Medical Center, Frankfort
  • Georgetown Community Hospital, Georgetown
  • Hardin Memorial Hospital, Elizabethtown
  • Harlan ARH Hospital, Harlan
  • Harrison Memorial Hospital, Cynthiana
  • Hazard ARH Regional Medical Center, Hazard
  • Methodist Hospital, Henderson
  • Norton Cancer Institute, Louisville
  • Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital, Ashland
  • St. Claire Regional Medical Center, Morehead
  • Rockcastle Regional Hospital, Mt. Vernon
  • The Medical Center at Bowling Green
  • TJ Samson Community Hospital
  • Tug Valley ARH Regional Medical Center, South Williamson

Additionally, evaluations are under way for several other hospitals, further establishing Markey as the destination cancer center for the region.

The future of cancer care in Kentucky

The faculty and staff at Markey have a busy few years ahead of them, as the cancer center prepares to submit its application for an NCI designation as a comprehensive cancer center in 2017. Currently, 45 of the 69 total NCI-designated cancer centers in the country hold a comprehensive cancer center status.

To earn this top level of designation, cancer centers must show a depth and breadth of research in each of three major areas: laboratory, clinical, and population-based research, as well as substantial transdisciplinary research that bridges these scientific areas. Additionally, outreach is especially important, and comprehensive cancer centers must demonstrate professional and public education and outreach capabilities, including the dissemination of clinical and public health advances in the communities it serves.

“Earning a comprehensive cancer center designation from the NCI would be another giant leap forward for Markey,” Evers said. “We’ve already established ourselves as the destination cancer center for the state, and moving forward, we will continue to push to become a leader in cancer clinical care and research across the country.”