Doctor with Patient

When it comes to cancer care, you want the best. For many people, that means UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, western Pennsylvania’s only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. In fact, UPMC Hillman is one of only 51 NCI-designated Comprehensive Centers in the United States.

The NCI is the U.S. government’s main agency for cancer research and training and is the largest funder of cancer research in the world. Its Comprehensive Cancer Center program recognizes centers nationwide that conduct state-of-the-art research to improve cancer diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.

Never Miss a Beat!

Get Healthy Tips Sent to Your Phone!

Message and data rates may apply. Text the word STOP to opt out and HELP for help. Click here to view the privacy and terms.

The NCI Recognizes Excellence

The NCI’s Comprehensive Cancer Center designation is the highest federal rating a cancer center can get. It is awarded to the top cancer centers in the country in recognition of innovative research and state-of-the-art treatments. UPMC first earned the NCI designation in 1990 and has retained it ever since.

Over the past 30 years, UPMC Hillman scientists and doctors have pushed the boundaries of cancer research and clinical care by:

  • Discovering two of the seven known viruses that cause cancer
  • Conducting research that has changed standard practices for a wide range of cancers, including melanoma and lung, breast, thyroid, and head and neck cancers
  • Discovering new cancer immunotherapy drug targets and cancer vaccines that are being tested in clinical trials that have led to new approvals by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

UPMC Hillman’s researchers include more than 300 faculty members. Each faculty member does research in at least one of these areas:

  • Bio-behavioral oncology: The biological changes created by stress and other psychological and behavioral factors
  • Molecular and cellular cancer biology: The study of what happens at the cellular level in cancer
  • Cancer epidemiology and prevention: Investigates who gets cancer and how can we prevent it
  • Cancer immunology: The immune system’s role in cancer
  • Cancer virology: Research on the viruses that cause 15% of human cancers, including how we can use viruses as tools to fight cancer
  • Cancer therapeutics: How today’s cancer treatments can be improved

The NCI also has given UPMC Hillman three Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) awards to recognize its expertise in:

  • Head and neck cancer
  • Skin cancer
  • Ovarian cancer (shared with Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo)

NCI-designated cancer centers expand scientific knowledge. Their discoveries help ease the global burden of cancer.

How the NCI Designation Benefits Patients

As an NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, UPMC Hillman is a leader in converting exciting laboratory discoveries into new cancer treatments.

Our cancer researchers work with clinicians to move the most promising research results from their labs into clinical trials quickly. It means that patients throughout the UPMC Hillman network get early access to new and innovative cancer treatments.

Better outcomes

A study in Cancer showed that patients treated at a Comprehensive Cancer Center have better survival rates than those treated at other hospitals.

Access to clinical trials

At any given time, UPMC Hillman researchers lead or take part in more than 450 clinical trials. These trials cover all aspects of cancer, from prevention and early detection to new therapies and survivorship. If a local clinical trial might be a good fit, your doctor will discuss it with you.


UPMC Hillman makes it easy for patients to get state-of-the-art care throughout Pennsylvania, and at additional locations in Ohio, New York, and Maryland. This means you can get the benefits of an NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center right in your backyard. With UPMC Hillman’s network of community hospitals and outpatient surgical centers, you may receive some of your cancer care without traveling to Pittsburgh.

The Best of the Best

At UPMC Hillman, researchers and doctors work together to move promising laboratory studies into clinical trials with patient volunteers. Ultimately, this work provides patients with early access to new and innovative treatments.

In the 30 years UPMC Hillman has held the NCI designation, its doctors have been at the forefront of many life-changing discoveries and treatment options. But its priorities remain unchanged.

UPMC Hillman continues to:

  • Pioneer new cancer treatments every day through research
  • Find better ways to treat cancer through clinical trials
  • Invest in smart technology to better care for patients

The end goal is to improve cancer treatment for every patient.

National Cancer Institute. NCI-Designated Cancer Centers. National Institutes of Health. Link

NIH Almanac. National Cancer Institute (NIH). National Institutes of Health.Link

National Cancer Institute. UPMC Hillman Cancer Center. National Institutes of Health. Link

Cancer. Impact of Care at Comprehensive Cancer Centers on Outcome – Results from a Population-based Study. National Library of Medicine/PubMed. Link

About UPMC Hillman Cancer Center

When you are facing cancer, you need the best care possible. UPMC Hillman Cancer Center provides world-class cancer care, from diagnosis to treatment, to help you in your cancer battle. We are the only comprehensive cancer center in our region, as designated by the National Cancer Institute. We have more than 70 locations throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New York, with more than 200 oncologists – making it easier for you to find world-class care close to home. Our internationally renowned research team is striving to find new advances in prevention, detection, and treatment. Most of all, we are here for you. Our patient-first approach aims to provide you and your loved ones the care and support you need. To find a provider near you, visit our website.