German Cancer Aid funds CCC Lower Saxony as Oncology Center of Excellence
High accolades in cancer medicine: The German Cancer Aid appoints the Comprehensive Cancer Center Lower Saxony (CCC-N) as Oncology Center of Excellence. The appointment goes hand in hand with funding amounting to three million Euros spread over four years. This makes the CCC-N one of now 14 Oncology Centers of Excellence in Germany.
(umg/mhh) The German Cancer Aid (DHK) will fund the Comprehensive Cancer Center Lower Saxony (CCC N) as an Oncology Center of Excellence and announced this decision today, February 3, 2021. The CCC-N was founded jointly by the Hanover Medical School (MHH) and the University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) only in November 2019. With the appointment as Oncology Center of Excellence, the international DHK assessors and experts certify that the CCC-N cancer specialists treat cancer patients on the highest medical level and with state-of-the-art science and thereby contribute to a comprehensive and optimal patient care in all of Lower Saxony. Beyond that, the participating institutions of the Comprehensive Cancer Center Lower Saxony continuously develop new and innovative cancer diagnostic tools and cancer therapies as well as new standards for patient care procedures. These are passed on to all cooperation partners within the network.
“This award is the highest possible recognition for the successful development work of the past two-and-a-half years. It means that the CCC Lower Saxony is in the ‘premier league’ in German cancer medicine and closes a major gap in cancer medicine in Lower Saxony. Contrary to all other Centers of Excellence, we are a very young CCC and we were convincing with our ideas and concepts despite that,” says Prof. Dr. Volker Ellenrieder, spokesperson for the CCC Lower Saxony. According to Ellenrieder, “We are pleased with the German Cancer Aid’s positive evaluation of our high-quality and innovative patient care as well as the excellent cancer research happening at the CCC-N. This award motivates us for the future.”
Björn Thümler, Secretary for Science and Culture in Lower Saxony, praised the joint project by UMG and MHH, “The appointment as Center of Excellence is marvelous news for Lower Saxony and underlines our successful work. As Secretary for Science, I supported and followed the progress of this route from the very beginning. The German Cancer Aid confirms the value and the potential of the CCC Lower Saxony by establishing and funding an Oncology Center of Excellence. The young Center of Excellence opens up additional perspectives for all cancer patients and gives them hope. Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally – we have to focus all our attention on it.” Secretary Thümler continued, “Another important step to strengthen oncology in Lower Saxony and to strengthen the exchange in cancer research will be to establish a regional advisory council, which we have started to put in place.”
The German Cancer Aid supports establishing centers and networks in cancer medicine with its own funding program already since 2007. The goal is to treat cancer patients in all of Germany at the highest level and with unified quality standards. The appointment comes with 750,000 Euros funding annually for the next four years. The German Cancer Aid funds 14 Oncology Centers of Excellence in Germany. These centers are organized in the CCC network with the aim to improve oncologic patient care and clinical cancer research both in structure and content. Every funded CCC is regularly audited to ensure performance and quality targets.
Gerd Nettekoven, chairman of the board of the German Cancer Aid emphasizes, “With this new CCC consortium, the German Cancer Aid intends to further develop the Comprehensive Cancer Center initiative launched almost 14 years ago, to further shape the care structures and thus to strengthen and continuously improve the care of cancer patients in the two large regions of Göttingen and Hanover. The CCC-N is the first to present CCC structures in Lower Saxony. We are very pleased by this and are convinced that everyone will benefit from it, the patients in particular, but also physicians and scientists. It is crucial for us that the two locations also contribute their respective strengths in research to an overall strategic concept in order to achieve synergies in many areas.”
Alliance for patient benefit
“When two strong medical institutions join forces, this benefits the patients directly. The CCC-N combines the expertise in the treatment and research of cancer diseases in all of Lower Saxony. The appointment by the German Cancer Aid takes us closer to our goal to treat cancer patients as best as possible and also offer them new treatment options in a timely manner,” says Professor Dr. Michael Manns, president of the Hanover Medical School (MHH).
“The requirements of the German Cancer Aid for an Oncology Center of Excellence are extremely demanding. We are very pleased to have received this appointment together with the MHH today. This is the result of a convincing and broad-based bundling of highest-level university and clinical competence in oncology. The CCC Lower Saxony, together with the regional partners in oncologic care, offers the people of Lower Saxony and in the respective regions an optimal range of care. The development of a common, comprehensive data basis deepens the understanding about oncologic care,” according to Professor Dr. Wolfgang Brück, spokesperson of the UMG Board.
Bundling of expertise in the CCC Lower Saxony
The CCC Lower Saxony was founded in November 2019 by MHH and UMG. Under the guiding principle “Precision and care in cancer research and treatment”, the CCC bundles interdisciplinary cancer research and expertise in patient care in Lower Saxony. The group combines all competences of the respective institutions as well as those of their cooperation partners. This includes, among others, all certified oncology centers in Lower Saxony, 23 organ cancer centers certified by the German Cancer Aid, and 16 cooperation hospitals. Every year, 15,000 cancer patients are treated at the two CCC locations MHH and UMG. This means that right now, about half of all newly diagnosed cancer patients in Lower Saxony are being treated in certified centers.
An essential task is the interdisciplinary treatment of cancer patients. The interdisciplinary tumor conferences play an important role: In these conferences, highly qualified cancer specialists of different disciplines discuss treatment concepts for each individual patient and determine an optimized treatment plan. Currently, 24 tumor conferences take place weekly at the MHH and UMG CCC locations with up to 8,000 case decisions annually. Another important expertise of the CCC-N is the diagnosis of rare tumors which no directives give recommendations for. These cases are discussed during molecular tumor conferences, which were established at both CCC-N locations, Göttingen and Hanover, in 2019.
Precision oncology – new therapeutic options for cancer
“In addition to the care for cancer patients, cancer research is an essential responsibility of the CCC Lower Saxony,” emphasizes Professor Dr. Peter Hillemanns, deputy spokesperson of the CCC-N. A special focus lies on translational research: The aim is to take up-to-date research results from bench to bedside as timely as possible. This requires a close link between research and clinical practice.
A special research focus of the CCC Lower Saxony is genome dynamics and immunoregulation in case of treatment resistance. The two locations bundled their long-standing expertise in order to gain a better molecular understanding of resistances and to develop therapeutic strategies to overcome these resistances.
Additional research focuses of the CCC-N are in artificial intelligence, immunotherapy, infections with cancer or diagnostic imaging. The scientists of the CCC Lower Saxony are networked closely with local, national, and international research institutions.
Supporting offers of the CCC-N
One of the main purposes of the CCC Lower Saxony is to improve or maintain the quality of life of patients and their relatives. To achieve this, various supporting therapeutic option are being offered in addition to the best possible medical expertise. This includes psycho-oncology, physio therapy, social counseling, nutrition counseling, palliative care, as well as cooperation with self-help groups. At the CCC-N, these are organized in a patient advisory committee that advises the board.
The CCC-N also participates in the training and further qualification of medical staff as well as the training of medical students. Under the umbrella of the Onco Academy, all activities of the CCC-N are coordinated and developed for the individual target group. Patients and relatives, as well as other interested parties, have the option to regularly visit seminars and lectures.
A strong network for the local region
Currently, the CCC Lower Saxony has 16 cooperation partners, including hospitals, private specialist practices, and rehabilitation institutions. This infrastructure makes cancer patient care possible on a high medical level. Cancer patients in all of Lower Saxony thereby benefit from joint tumor boards, common standard operating procedures (SOPs), interdisciplinary office hours, the option for second opinions, access to clinical trials, regional trial networks, the tumor documentation, the clinical cancer register as well as the further education options in this strong alliance.
Oncology Centers of Excellence
Since 2007, the German Cancer Aid offers a program to fund and establish “Oncology Centers of Excellence” in Germany with the aim to offer comprehensive patient care on the highest medical level and according to a state-of-the-art knowledge base in oncology. The Oncology Centers of Excellence are audited regularly by a committee of international experts according to rigorous quality standards. They are a significant part of a broad, three-tier program which was developed together with the German Cancer Society. In addition to the Centers of Excellence, on the second tier the German Cancer Society certifies oncology centers and on the third tier organ cancer centers. These structures are aimed at establishing comprehensive and unified high-quality standards for the treatment and care of cancer patients in Germany.
On the internet at www.ccc-niedersachsen.eu
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