About Markey Cancer Center

No Kentuckian has to leave the state for the most advanced cancer care available.  

At the UK Markey Cancer Center, we are working together to achieve a cancer-free tomorrow. We have provided state-of-the-art cancer care for over 40 years, and since 2017 have been recognized as a top 50 cancer center by U.S. News & World Report.

It’s this dedication to our patients and our work to end cancer that in 2023 led the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to designate Markey a Comprehensive Cancer Center, the NCI’s highest classification. We were awarded our initial NCI designation in 2013.

The UK Markey Cancer Center was founded in 1983 as an integral part of the University of Kentucky and UK HealthCare.

What Comprehensive Cancer Center status means: the Power of More.

More researchers. More experts to treat your cancer. More people working toward a cancer-free tomorrow. This achievement will enable us to push our remarkable care and research to the next level. 

NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center designation provides us additional resources, including:

  • Access to more funding for research, training and outreach.
  • An increased ability to attract nationally and internationally recognized cancer researchers and oncologists.
  • More opportunities to offer advanced, early-phase clinical trials that may provide tomorrow’s treatments today.
  • More researchers collaborating in innovative ways to propel cancer treatment forward.

Numerous studies show that patients treated at Comprehensive Cancer Centers have better survival and recovery rates.

How we got here

When Markey is faced with a challenge, we all come together and rise to the occasion.

Our journey began long before we had a designation. We have been working towards our mission of conquering cancer for decades, starting by recruiting a director who would challenge us to become not only NCI-designated but also a cancer center recognized for exceptional research and clinical care. The leadership at Markey pushed to visualize comprehensive designation, providing Kentuckians with access to precision cancer care close to home. 

When we encouraged collaborative research on melanoma progression and drug resistance, we were able to develop a multi-site clinical trial that has high potential to improve the survival rates of Kentucky's melanoma patients.

When we increased focus on colorectal cancer, screening rates doubled. Between 1999 and 2016, screening rates throughout Kentucky rose from 35 percent to 70 percent, improving more than any other state. As screening has increased, the incidence rate for colorectal cancer has dropped about 30 percent, and the mortality rate has dropped 34 percent.

When we committed to becoming a cancer center of the future, we implemented a plan to train the next generation of cancer specialists and researchers. One way we are doing this is through our Appalachian Career Training in Oncology (ACTION) Program, which offers local high school and undergraduate students who are interested in cancer-related careers hands-on experience at Markey. 

When we saw the opportunity to guide change at the government level, we spoke up and spurred 11 state policy changes over a 10-year span. Some of these changes include establishing a 100-percent tobacco-free schools policy and creating the Kentucky Lung Cancer Screening program, among others.

Who we serve

We serve all of Kentucky, which is home to 4.4 million people. As the only NCI-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center within a 200-mile radius of Lexington, our multidisciplinary teams collaborate to evaluate and treat numerous forms of the disease.

The Markey Center Cancer Affiliate Network – made up of independently operated community hospitals – ensures we are able to reach patients in every corner of the state. 

The Markey Cancer Center Research Network opens access to research across Kentucky, allowing more patients to participate in clinical studies. Both networks help patients spend less time on the road and more time receiving high quality cancer care close to home.

Our history

Founded in 1983, the Markey Cancer Center was named after Lucille Parker Markey, a philanthropist and longtime owner of Calumet Farm, a Thoroughbred breeding and training operation in Lexington.

Over the past four decades, Markey has grown into a nationally recognized cancer center. A major milestone in Markey’s history was hiring B. Mark Evers, MD in 2009 to become the cancer center’s director. A surgical oncologist and nationally recognized physician scientist, Dr. Evers also serves as the Director of the UK Markey Cancer Center, Physician-in-Chief, Oncology Service Line and is the Associate Vice-President for Oncology Research and Strategic Development. His recruitment was key in helping the cancer center receive its initial National Cancer Institute designation in 2013 and its Comprehensive Cancer Center status in 2023.

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NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center - A Cancer Center Designated by the National Cancer Institute

Markey Cancer Center is designated by the National Cancer Institute as a Comprehensive Cancer Center – a distinction that recognizes our commitment to accelerating precision cancer research and care to patients. We are the first and only NCI-Comprehensive Cancer Center in Kentucky, and one of 57 in the nation.