Between Florida's size and its senior population, cancer treatment is needed heremore than in most other states. Yet Florida has only one facility with the prestigious National Cancer Institute designation: Tampa's Moffitt Cancer Center.
According to the American Cancer Society, Florida ranks second in the nation in cancer incidence and mortality, but 15th in NCI grant funding.
That could change under a proposal backed by Gov. Rick Scott and approved by the Legislature to spend $300 million over the next five years helping cancer centers at the University of Miami and University of Florida get NCI's stamp of approval. Moffitt will get the largest share of the money to help it grow and improve.
"There's unfortunately so much cancer in the state that even if we wanted to, we couldn't take care of everybody," Moffitt director and executive vice president Thomas Sellers said.
NCI, a division of the National Institutes of Health, gives varying designations to 68 cancer centers that pass a rigorous evaluation process. The title isn't just an honor — with it comes special access to grants and clinical trials.