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February 11, 2019

In our first CBIZ Executive Advantage Series of 2019, Dr. Roy Jensen and Jeff Wright from the University of Kansas Cancer Center described the impressive growth the KU Cancer Center has undergone in the last 15 years, and how they continue to change the landscape of cancer care. Here are the top four things you need to know about the KU Cancer Center and the innovative ways they are striving for a solution to a disease that affects everyone.

KU CANCER CENTER: FROM THEN TO NOW

Dr. Jensen returned to his home in Kansas City in 2004 to take the job as the Director of the KU Cancer Center. At this time, the center had been under the leadership of 18 different deans in a span of 18 years. As a result, the center was having a hard time maintaining talent and thriving as an organization. However, Dr. Jensen saw the potential within the center, and recognized that with some hard work and strategic decisions, the center had the chance to become one of the best.

With both local and regional collaborations, Dr. Jensen was able to leverage his expertise and began to build a program with the right resources and the right people. These advancements gained the KU Cancer Center the National Cancer Institute (NCI) designation in 2012. With this NCI designation, KU Cancer Center is the only center with this designation in the state of Kansas, and is one of only seventy in the United States.  This designation allows the center to have the resources to continue to innovate and also provide excellent care to Kansas Citians without having to travel far.

FUTURE OF CANCER CARE

Both Dr. Jensen and Jeff Wright are extremely excited for the future and hope to leverage the momentum KU is experiencing. Dr. Jensen stated that Dr. Joesph McGuirk is doing ground-breaking work for blood and marrow transplants. However, Dr. McGuirk is just one of over a dozen specialized doctors doing amazing work in this field. It is not just the work of these doctors; the Cancer Center itself immediately steps in to help guide patients with a cancer diagnosis. Their Nurse Navigator program enlists the help of a team of nurses whose job is to ensure that the patient is seen by the right doctor as soon as possible. This team is present throughout the patient’s diagnosis journey until a survivorship treatment plan is in place. This programming is a stepping stone for the future of patient cancer care and the holistic view of a patient’s cancer journey.

Jeff Wright also believes that immunotherapy will be the future of how we attack cancer. Both he and Dr. Jensen agree that the next five to ten years will bring dramatic changes, and that technology will continue to make a difference. KU Cancer Center will also continue to work hard in their efforts to achieve the NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center designation that is currently only given to 47 other centers in the country. This designation is a goal for the Cancer Center and would further enhance the current programs and research taking place.

WHAT EMPLOYERS SHOULD BE DOING

Simply put, Jeff said prevention. He further explained that employers can help their employees by promoting annual preventative examinations, as these exams can be the key to an early cancer diagnosis. He also believes that employers should consider coverage for screenings. Lastly, he brought up the importance of employers ensuring that there is an NCI designated hospital in their medical plan network. Statistically, patients who receive care at an NCI designated hospital have 25% better outcomes.

As individuals, there are day to day behaviors that we can engage in to lower our chances of a cancer diagnosis. Dr. Jensen mentioned engaging in a healthy lifestyle that includes healthy eating habits, maintaining an active routine, and avoiding excess consumption of alcohol and tobacco. He said that thirty-one percent of cancer cases are linked to tobacco. Finally, he emphasized that everyone should be getting vaccinated, specifically for HPV – over 40,000 cases of cancer could be prevented every year if everyone received this vaccination.

HOW KANSAS CITIANS CAN HELP

Both Dr. Jensen and Jeff Wright feel that any organization that helps fight back against cancer is a worthy cause. Additionally, they both are passionate about spreading the news of the KU Cancer Center and informing the public of their comprehensive cancer care. Both are determined and dedicated to bring the entire spectrum of care to Kansas City to optimize and enhance patient outcomes. As mentioned, there are many opportunities to get involved in within the KU Cancer Center, click here to learn how to get involved today!

See below for an afterword from Dr Jensen -

“It was an honor to talk with you all about The University of Kansas Cancer Center – to share our story and vision for the future.  As you can tell, this is an exciting time for us and we are dedicated to providing the most innovative cancer research and treatment for patients in the region.  As you heard, we are embarking on a quest to achieve NCI Comprehensive designation.  This effort will require a great deal of community support.  If you are interested in learning more about how you can participate personally, please feel free to reach out to Krista Allen, Director of Development, at kallen@kuendowment.org. Thank you again for spending your time with us at the Executive Advantage Series.”

To register for the next CBIZ Executive Advantage Series event in April, please email kcevents@CBIZ.com for more information.




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