The UVA Comprehensive Cancer Center is part of UVA Health, based in Charlottesville, Virginia. It is one of just two NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers serving residents of Virginia. The center has a robust reputation for groundbreaking cancer prevention, detection, and treatment research, as well as compassionate care for patients with all types of cancer, including lung cancer and malignant pleural mesothelioma.
Facts about the UVA Comprehensive Cancer Center
The UVA Comprehensive Cancer Center is one of just two NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the state of Virginia.
The center receives more than $82 million in annual funding for its research.
The center serves 3.2 million people across 87 counties in Virginia and West Virginia.
The Society of Thoracic Surgeons awarded the lung cancer surgery program at UVA Comprehensive Cancer Center its highest rating for quality outcomes. The center is one of just ten to receive this rating.
U.S. News & World Report ranks the UVA lung cancer surgery program as high-performing.
UVA Health is the first medical center in the region to offer a robotically-assisted lung biopsy to help doctors reach tiny nodules in far corners of the lungs.
The UVA lung cancer team pioneered the use of radiotracer for lung cancer.
The University of Virginia was founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 as a “public university designed to advance human knowledge, educate leaders, and cultivate an informed citizenry.” At that time, a school of medicine was authorized, and the University of Virginia Medical School opened as the tenth medical school in the country in 1825. Nearly eight decades later, UVA opened its first hospital in March 1901 with 25 beds and three operating rooms. The first cancer patient was treated in 1907 when a farmer arrived seeking relief from pain in his jaw that was diagnosed as a sarcoma.
Following their exposure to the use of radium in France during World War I, UVA physicians and nurses introduced its use to UVA upon their return, making it among the first in the country to apply this new technology to cancer treatment, and shortly thereafter the hospital hired a technician to begin analyzing cancer cells and cancerous tissue. In 1933, Paul G. McIntire proposed a $100,000 memorial dedicated to his wife, Anna Rhodes McIntire, “for the study and treatment of cancer,” and members of the medical faculty traveled to New York to consult with physicians at Memorial Hospital – later renamed Memorial-Sloan Kettering – and those at Columbia University for recommendations about how best to offer cancer care at UVA. The McIntire Tumor Clinic was then created as a weekly clinical meeting to review new and pre-existing cases.
UVA received its first research grant for cancer in 1946, and cancer education became part of the curriculum for medical students. In 1952 a new structure was built for cancer research laboratories and to accommodate the tumor clinic meetings, as well as to provide classroom space for an oncology curriculum and treatment space for cancer patients. By 1959 the hospital began incorporating chemotherapy into cancer treatment.
In 1971, the National Cancer Act was passed to create a national program to accelerate cancer research and translate it into treatment and prevention for cancer patients. UVA Applied for cancer center designation in 1973 and was denied, largely due to its lack of a separate cancer facility. By 1984, the center had become a leader in various areas of cancer treatment despite its lack of a dedicated cancer center, and in 1987 the National Cancer Institute awarded the school a three-year grant that was renewed based on the promise that the University would engage more actively in the clinical operations of a cancer center as a complement to its basic scientific work. By 1995, the NCI recognized the program as a clinical cancer center, and in 2022 it was recognized as a comprehensive cancer center.
Mesothelioma and Lung Cancer Care at the UVA Comprehensive Cancer Center
Patients seeking treatment at UVA Comprehensive Cancer Center for lung cancer or malignant pleural mesothelioma are offered numerous treatment options. The center boasts one of the largest lung cancer clinics in the region, and its lung cancer surgery team was given the highest ranking available by U.S. News & World Report. The UVA lung cancer program was also one of just ten programs in the country to receive a three-star quality outcome rating from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons.
Treatment options and innovations at UVA include biopsies performed via a robot-assisted Ion system; TomoTherapy radiation that avoids healthy tissue; video-assisted thoracic surgery; radiotracer nuclear imaging to identify the smallest thoracic tumors; Gamma Knife radiosurgery; high-dose-rate brachytherapy; and PET-CT.
UVA’s Comprehensive Cancer Center leverages the talents of more than 185 members from 25 departments in the Schools of Medicine, Nursing, Engineering, Data Science, and Education, along with the university’s College of Arts and Sciences. It is nationally and internationally recognized as a premier cancer research center that has made notable contributions through the discovery of cancer-causing genes, tumor antigens, epigenetic regulation, and our basic understanding of cancer cells and molecular biology. Among the most valuable contributions made by UVA’s researchers is their work in “drugging” “undruggable” cancer targets. The center currently has more than 100 active clinical trials in progress and has led the scientific world in the areas of cancer nanomedicine, immunotherapy, and systems biology analysis of how organelles of cancer cells adapt to oncogenic stress.
Notable Staff and Mesothelioma Specialists
UVA Comprehensive Cancer Center’s lung cancer and malignant mesothelioma physicians are experts in the diagnosis and management of these challenging illnesses. The multidisciplinary team includes specialists in cancer, lung care, radiology and radiation therapy, and surgery, who work together to create treatment plans grounded in science and designed to match each patient’s condition and goals. The center also offers a Cancer Peer Support program to connect survivors with current patients and caregivers, providing them with unique insights.
The medical team includes Chief of Thoracic Surgery Dr. Linda W. Martin and thoracic surgeon Dr. Christopher D. Scott; pulmonary critical care specialist Dr. Yun M. Shim, and medical oncologists Dr. Ryan D. Gentzler and Dr. Richard D. Hall.
UVA Comprehensive Cancer Center has one of the largest lung cancer clinics in the region, offering state-of-the-art treatment for the challenging illness, as well as for patients diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma.