Winship gives new meaning to the "Big C"

By Catherine Williams and Marlene Goldman | Winship Magazine | Jan. 22, 2018

Winship is changing the way cancer is prevented, diagnosed, and treated. That’s good news for Georgia, and the world. Learn what it means to be an NCI-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University has been granted Comprehensive Cancer Center status by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the highest designation given by the NCI. What does that mean?

Some 50,000 Georgians are diagnosed with cancer and more than 17,000 die of the disease each year. Winship investigators are working to change that by discovering better ways to prevent cancer, detect it earlier, and treat it. The new comprehensive cancer center designation from the NCI is both a vote of confidence and material support for those efforts.

The advances represented by Winship's comprehensive status are already at work. For patients, it means more precise ways of detecting and diagnosing cancer. It means getting a new drug or therapy not available outside of the clinical trial system. It means being treated by a team of people with the expertise and knowledge to use the most advanced therapies and tools effectively.

For all Georgians, an NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center means that a critical mass of top cancer researchers from around the world is right here, in their home state, studying the environments, habits, genetics, and health problems of Georgia with the goal of making their lives cancer-free.

Winship joins an elite club of NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers throughout the country. That's good news if you're a patient in Georgia: survival rates are up to 25% higher at these cancer centers.

"Winship conducts research that changes the way cancer is prevented, diagnosed, and treated. As recently as 10 years ago, we had limited treatment options for people with advanced cases of lung cancer and melanoma. Today, new therapies help people live longer with those diseases with a good quality of life. Those new treatments came out of Winship and other research cancer centers like Winship," says Walter J. Curran, Jr., executive director of Winship. "We continue to seek better ways to help the citizens of Georgia in their journeys against cancer."

The incidence and mortality rates for cancer in the South are high. Georgians in particular have higher rates than the national average of lung, breast, and prostate cancers, and melanoma. Tobacco use and obesity contribute to the statistics, but lifestyle risk factors are not the only reasons for the state's health disparities; there are also biological factors and access to care issues. Why does multiple myeloma occur two to three times more often among African Americans than among Caucasians? How do we bring better prevention and earlier detection to underserved Georgians? Winship researchers tackle cancer from all angles—in its research labs, clinics, classrooms, and in the community—then take the next steps to turn their discoveries into tools that benefit Georgia.

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