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UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside, Passavant Designated “Blue Distinction Centers for Complex and Rare Cancers”


Two University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) hospitals, UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside and UPMC Passavant, have been designated “Blue Distinction Centers for Complex and Rare Cancers” by Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield. This designation indicates that these centers are within participating Blue Cross and Blue Shield network service areas offering comprehensive inpatient cancer care programs for adults, delivered by multidisciplinary teams with subspecialty training and distinguished clinical expertise in treating complex and rare cancer subtypes.

Designated hospitals must meet several criteria to be named a Blue Distinction Center, including multidisciplinary team input (including sub-specialty trained teams for complex and rare cancers and demonstrated depth of expertise across cancer disciplines in medicine, surgery, radiation oncology, pathology and radiology); demonstrated ongoing quality management and improvement programs for cancer care; ongoing commitment to using clinical data registries and providing access to appropriate clinical research for complex and rare cancers; and a proven sufficient volume of experience in treating rare and complex cancers.

“It’s an honor to receive this designation, which recognizes our strong commitment to superior and expert cancer care for every patient,” said Ronald B. Herberman, M.D., director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute and UPMC Cancer Centers.

Complex and rare cancers compose approximately 15 percent of new cancer cases in the United States each year, making it difficult for patients to locate or research facilities with oncologists and surgical teams experienced in treating these malignancies. The types of cancers designated by Blue Cross Blue Shield as complex and rare include acute leukemia (inpatient/non-surgical), bladder cancer, bone cancer, brain cancer (primary), esophageal cancer, gastric cancer, head and neck cancers, liver cancer, ocular melanoma, pancreatic cancer, rectal cancer, soft tissue sarcomas and thyroid cancer (medullary or anaplastic).

“Cancer patients deserve access to the highest-quality care available, whether their cancer is common or rare. Our longstanding National Cancer Institute designation as a Comprehensive Cancer Center demonstrates at the national level our commitment to excellence in cancer care and cancer research, and the Blue Distinction Center for Western Pennsylvania recognizes us as a regional leader in cancer treatment,” said Dr. Herberman.

Blue Distinction Centers for Complex and Rare Cancers were developed in strategic collaboration with the National Comprehensive Cancer Network and input from a panel of leading clinicians and professional organizations. Blue Distinction (R) is a designation awarded by Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies to medical facilities that have demonstrated expertise in delivering quality health care. The designation is based on rigorous, evidence-based selection criteria established in collaboration with leading clinicians, medical societies and professional organizations.


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