January 2011 — “Ten years. Thousands of lives saved.” Seattle Cancer Care Alliance is using this tagline to help celebrate its official 10th anniversary.  It was in January 2001 that SCCA – the patient care arm of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, UW Medicine and Seattle Children’s – opened its new outpatient building and headquarters on Lake Union. The result today is the Pacific Northwest’s only federally designated comprehensive cancer center.

During the past decade the number of patients seen annually at SCCA grew by almost 40% to 25,211 in 2010, annual revenue increased sevenfold to $282.3 million last year and the number of employees more than doubled to 973. Through its network of community hospital affiliations, certain SCCA services for patients and staff are now available in 10 locations in WashingtonAlaska and Montana.

SCCA is sharing its history and stories by its patients and staff via a special website, www.sccatenyear.org. The site also links to a page of 10 key SCCA accomplishments – one per year since 2001. It can be found here: http://www.sccatenyear.org/10-years-of-scca.cfm

SCCA unites the adult and pediatric cancer-care programs of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, UW Medicine and Seattle Children’s. Together they comprise the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in six states, from Washington to the Dakotas. In addition to the outpatient clinic, SCCA operates a pediatric-inpatient unit at Children’s and an adult-inpatient unit at UW Medical Center.

This combination of three clinical cancer programs from one public and two private institutions represents a unique business model in the United States because a separate corporate board and administrative structure oversees its operation.

“The trick in creating SCCA was taking one and one and one and making four,” said Norm Hubbard, the organization’s executive vice president.  “By combining the adult and pediatric cancer research and treatment programs of three world-class institutions, we created something that is more than the sum of the three partner institutions and more than what they could have created on their own.”

The result is thousands of people in many medical and ancillary disciplines whose only task is researching and treating cancer. Patients benefit from this dedicated expertise and the ability of the institutions to get new treatments from “bench to bedside.” Patients also have access to clinical trials of new treatments funded by the National Institutes of Health and private industry.

“SCCA was born of clinicians and scientists who view research as extraordinarily important, who believe that research can truly be transplanted from the lab to the clinic,” said Fred Appelbaum, M.D., SCCA executive director and senior vice president and director of the Hutchinson Center’s Clinical Research Division “We wanted to create a facility to do that.”

SCCA doctors, drawn from the faculties of the three partner institutions, are among the leaders in their medical and radiological cancer specialties. Their research has been influential in setting standards of care and advancing knowledge in the detection and treatment of many forms of cancer.

SCCA Network provides a structured program for supporting community-based oncology services to advance the level of care, including making leading-edge clinical trials available to local patients and offering continuing medical education to local health care providers. Members of the tri-state network are:

Washington: Cascade Cancer Center, Kirkland; Multicare Regional Cancer Center, Tacoma; Olympic Medical Center, Sequim; Overlake Hospital, Bellevue; Sea Mar Community Health Centers, Seattle; Skagit Valley Hospital, Mt. Vernon; Wenatchee Valley Medical Center, Wenatchee

Montana: Bozeman Deaconess Cancer Center, Bozeman; Clinic Cancer Care, Great Falls

Alaska: Providence Alaska Medical Center, Anchorage

SCCA has rolled out some unique services in its short history. For example, SCCA House, which opened in 2009, is an 80-room “green building” in Seattle that provides lodging for patients, families and caregivers. In 2008 and supported by a grant from Safeway Inc., a mobile digital mammography van was debuted to make mammograms more accessible to women throughout the greater Seattle area.  SCCA “Mammovan” has performed almost 10,000 mammograms since.