UF Health recognized for excellence in pancreatic cancer treatment

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The National Pancreas Foundation has named University of Florida Health among of its first group of National Pancreas Foundation Centers for excellence in pancreatic cancer treatment. Currently, 28 health care facilities nationwide hold the designation.

“I’m immensely proud of the collaboration among the clinicians and scientists from the departments of surgery, medical oncology, radiology and gastroenterology who have come together to form a center of excellence in the care of people with pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer,” said Jonathan D. Licht, M.D., director of the University of Florida Health Cancer Center. “Working together, we’ll be stronger in finding new solutions to these very serious diseases.”

For patients with pancreatic cancer and other pancreatic diseases, there can be inconsistencies in the level of care they receive. The NPF Center designation emphasizes high-quality, multidisciplinary care approaches.

“The NPF designation is an affirmation that UF Health is on the right track in terms of treating pancreatic cancer,” said Steven J. Hughes, M.D., a professor of surgery and chief of the division of general surgery at the UF College of Medicine. “It’s hard to be a consumer of health care. If you have a devastating diagnosis like pancreatic cancer, that can be a particular challenge. Now, patients can visit the NPF website and realize that UF Health is the right place for them.”

Designated centers will also seek to advance research and lead the way for heightened awareness and understanding of pancreatic cancer among community physicians, allied health professionals, patients, families and the general public.

“Recognition by the National Pancreas Foundation affirms our institutional commitment to patients with pancreatic cancer. Over several years, we have developed an outstanding team of clinicians and scientists, who collaborate closely with the goal of improving the outcome of patients with this dreaded disease,” said Kevin Behrns, M.D., chairman of the department of surgery and the Edward R. Woodward professor. “We look forward to continued progress in the journey with our patients.”

Approved NPF Centers must undergo an extensive auditing process and meet criteria that were developed by a task force made up of invited subject matter experts and patient advocates.

NPF Centers must staff several specialists on-site, including medical oncologists; pathologists with expertise in gastrointestinal cancers; radiation oncologists; diagnostic radiologists with expertise in pancreatic disease; pancreatic/hepatobiliary surgeons; and gastroenterologists. Other criteria include access to clinical trials for pancreatic cancer, psychosocial support, palliative care and dietary/nutritional support.

“Approved NPF Centers for pancreatic cancer help the community by highlighting high patient volume institutions that tend to have more resources and improved patient outcomes. NPF Centers will become a network where best practices, new advancements and information will be shared,” said Matthew Alsante, NPF’s executive director.

The NPF is a nonprofit organization that provides hope for those with pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer. NPF Centers are recognized for treatment of pancreatic cancer or pancreatitis, or both. UF Health’s designation includes pancreatic cancer and pancreatitis care.

For more information on the NPF and its initiatives, visit the foundation’s website at https://www.pancreasfoundation.org/.

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