UAMS Recognized by Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield For Excellence in Treating Rare and Complex Cancers

By todd

LITTLE ROCK – The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) has been named Arkansas’ only Blue Distinction Center for Complex and Rare Cancers by Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield. All cancer-related research and treatment at UAMS are conducted by the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute.


Blue Distinction is a designation awarded by Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies to medical facilities that have demonstrated evidence in delivering quality medical care. The Blue Distinction Centers for Complex and Rare Cancers were launched in March 2008 following the earlier launch of programs focused on cardiac care, bariatric surgery and transplants.


“We are proud to have our team of doctors, nurses and other health care providers recognized with such a distinguished group of cancer centers from throughout the country,” said Peter Emanuel, M.D., director of the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute. “Complex cancers require specially trained health care professionals who are committed to understanding the latest techniques and treatment options for each individual patient. It is an honor to be acknowledged as Arkansas’ only facility to provide these unique services for our patients.”


UAMS was recognized as a Blue Distinction Center for six types of cancer: bladder cancer, brain cancer – primary, gastric cancer, liver cancer, pancreatic cancer, and acute leukemia (inpatient, non-surgical). There are 85 Blue Distinction Center for Complex and Rare Cancers in the United States focusing on 13 cancers, which together account for about 15 percent of new cancer cases annually.


To receive the designation, UAMS met several criteria, including the treatment of a large number of patients with rare cancers, use of subspecialty trained health care teams, ongoing quality management and improvement programs, and commitment to using clinical data registries and participation in research studies.


“UAMS is a world-renowned cancer treatment facility,” said James Adamson, M.D., chief medical officer for Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield. “As a Blue Distinction Center for Complex and Rare Cancers, UAMS joins a very prestigious group of hospitals whose commitment to quality has translated into outstanding patient care. We salute their achievement of Blue Distinction status and are grateful to have an institution of this caliber in Arkansas.”


The Blue Distinction program focuses on providing information to patients who have complex and rare cancers to help support them in their own health care decision making. The program was developed in collaboration with the National Comprehensive Cancer Network and with input from a panel of expert clinicians.


Construction is under way at the Cancer Institute that ultimately will double its capacity for research and treatment. In April 2007, Gov. Mike Beebe signed a bill allowing the state to provide up to $46 million in matching funds to build a 12-story expansion to the Cancer Institute, Arkansas’ only academic cancer research and treatment facility. Gifts to the building or endowment given between January 1, 2007, and June 30, 2009, qualify for the matching funds. The expansion is expected to open in 2010.


UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with five colleges, a graduate school, a medical center, six centers of excellence and a statewide network of regional centers. UAMS has 2,538 students and 733 medical residents. Its centers of excellence include the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute and the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging. It is one of the state’s largest public employers with about 9,600 employees, including nearly 1,150 physicians who provide medical care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS’ Area Health Education Centers throughout the state. UAMS and its affiliates have an economic impact in Arkansas of $5 billion a year. Visit