Skip to Content


Spanish National Cancer Program Announced

Spanish National Cancer Program Announced
Governmental Agencies, Scientific and Medical Institutions, Join to Bring World-Class Standards in Cancer Care to Spain
Madrid as Future “Euro-Center” of Research-Driven Patient Care
M. D. Anderson News Release 11/18/04

In a move that promises to transform cancer research and patient care for the benefit of all citizens of Spain, an unprecedented group of government, scientific and medical partners announced today the formation of a national cancer program that will make world-class standards in research-driven patient therapies broadly available.

Led by Centro Oncológico M. D. Anderson International España, Spain’s first multidisciplinary full-service clinical cancer center, Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncológicas (CNIO), and Universidad Complutense de Madrid, the country’s prestigious cancer research institution and medical school, respectively, the national cancer program will be at the forefront in enabling scientists and clinicians to share knowledge more directly, speeding the transfer of cancer research from the laboratory to patient care at the bedside.

Dr. John Mendelsohn, president of The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, discussed the new model today at the Foreign Press Center in New York City. Dr. Mendelsohn will join Dr. Mariano Barbacid, director of CNIO, Dr. Carlos Hernández Gil, president, M. D. Anderson International España, and Professor Angel Nogales, dean of the faculty of medicine at Universidad Complutense, for a press briefing in Madrid on Tuesday, November 23, 2004 at 10:30AM (local time). The briefing will take place during a joint M. D. Anderson Cancer Center – CNIO symposium on translational research being held at CNIO.  

M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston is the top-ranked cancer center in the U.S., world-renowned for its leadership in multidisciplinary care and clinical and translational cancer research. The clinical cancer center in Madrid, which opened in 2000, was its first international affiliation.

In planning for three years, the national cancer program represents an innovative public and private bipartisan effort, involving the highest levels of Spanish federal and regional governments, Spain’s Department of Defense, and Universidad Complutense. Spain’s Vice President, Maria-Theresa de la Vega, was instrumental facilitating the plan. Of the 17 Spanish Autonomous Regions (Communidades Autonomas), three have already signed agreements to participate. They include Madrid, Castilla-La Mancha and Castilla y León.

Dr. Mendelsohn said that the new national cancer program is in its way replicating the mission-driven approach at the Houston-based M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, where the overriding goal is to eradicate cancer in Texas, the United States, and the world through outstanding multidisciplinary programs that integrate patient care, research, education and prevention.

“The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center is enormously proud to be a part of this defining moment in Spain’s healthcare history. This new model is driven by a singular purpose: to give all Spanish cancer patients access to state-of-the art research on cancer treatment, to the most advanced therapies, and to the most compassionate and knowledgeable approaches to high-quality patient care,” said Dr. Mendelsohn. 

According to Dr. Thomas Brown, who coordinates M. D. Anderson’s international activities as vice president for extramural programs, “this new partnership unites world-class academic and medical institutions in an unparalleled international effort that is exclusively focused on tackling cancer at the global level.”

The collaboration with CNIO and Universidad Complutense could ultimately define Madrid as a “Euro-center” for superior cancer care, Dr. Brown said.

According to Dr. Hernández Gil, a former deputy minister of health for Spain, “This is a visionary model that will have a far-reaching impact on the quality and reach of cancer care, as it is specifically designed to do the greatest good for the people of Spain. Working collaboratively, we will make exceptional research-driven patient care available to every citizen, while contributing to advancing scientific discovery toward eradicating this deadly disease throughout the world.”

For Universidad Complutense, the national cancer program will enable participation in sponsored research, add an important teaching-training component for students on site at the hospital and create opportunities for post-graduate fellowships, and house doctor positions, said Dr. Hernández Gil.

M. D. Anderson International España plans to expand its hospital facility through a long-term lease of the adjacent Naval hospital (formerly known as the Policlínica Naval Nuestra Señora del Carmen), which was decommissioned by the Spanish Department of Defense. When the planned expansion is completed, the hospital will constitute 14,000 square meters, offer 140 inpatient beds, eight operating rooms and 40 external clinics. In 2004, M. D. Anderson International España will treat approximately 4,000 patients, up from 500 in 2000.

According to Dr. Hernández Gil, “The expansion plan, with a planned budget of $50 million dollars, will consolidate M. D. Anderson International España into the most prestigious cancer referral center in Europe.”

Various agreements that form the basis for the collaboration were made possible, in part, by the development of a foundation to work with M. D. Anderson International España.

The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

M. D. Anderson, a nonprofit institution founded in 1941, has established an international reputation as one of the world’s preeminent centers for cancer patient care, research, education and prevention. A multidisciplinary approach, and dedication to translational research, education and prevention are hallmarks of M. D. Anderson, which also holds the distinction of being designated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) as one of the first three Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the United States. It has been ranked the number one cancer center in the United States in four of the past five years by U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Hospitals.”
M. D. Anderson has provided care for more than 600,000 cancer patients since 1944 and 65,000 in the last year alone. Its faculty currently hold more NCI research grants and grant dollars than any other academic center in the U.S. In 2003, nearly 1,000 new patients from outside the U.S. came to M. D. Anderson for care. 

Centro Oncológico M. D. Anderson International España

In June of 2000, M. D. Anderson inaugurated Centro Oncológico M. D. Anderson International España, its first international affiliation and Spain’s first multidisciplinary cancer center. This enabled Spanish patients, for the first time, to receive diagnostic tests, inpatient and outpatient treatment and see all physicians at a single site in accordance with M. D. Anderson Cancer Center’s clinical care guidelines. Core staff is trained at M. D. Anderson and includes physicians and nurses who have studied in Spain or the U.S. The Madrid center, which currently has 250 employees, replicates M. D. Anderson’s nursing and pharmacy procedures, as well as patient education programs. M. D. Anderson International España contains twelve multidisciplinary care departments that include specific disease sites and genetic counseling, clinical testing and pain care units. The facility is currently 4,000 square meters and will expand to include 140 inpatient beds, eight operating rooms and a third radiation oncology machine, bringing the facility to 14,000 square meters. In 2003, 3,700 new patients were registered and approximately 30,000 outpatient consultations were conducted. 

Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncológicas

The Spanish National Cancer Centre (CNIO) was founded in 1998 by the Salud Carlos III Institute of Health, sponsored by the Ministry of Health. The CNIO is managed through its foundation (Fundación Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncológicas Carlos III), presided by the Minister of Health, Ms. Elena Salgado.  Scientific activity is governed through the Centre and overseen by the Director, alongside the Scientific Advisory Committee. The mission of the CNIO is to conduct research of excellence and to bring the very latest technology in the field of cancer to the Spanish National Health System. The CNIO is one of the few European Cancer Centres to allocate resources to both basic and applied research in an integrated fashion, thus supporting the interaction of its basic research program with those of molecular diagnostics and drug discovery. All programs benefit from excellent equipment, technology and technical services.

Universidad Complutense Madrid

The Universidad Complutense University was founded in early 16th century in Alcalá de Henares. Now located in Madrid, the School of Medicine is one of its most important Centers, with 19 departments granting degrees in Medicine, Occupational Therapy, and Human Nutrition and Dietetics. In addition to medical degrees, the school has Master, Specialist and Expert-level programs. Universidad Complutense has three prestigious University Hospitals, belonging to the Madrid Health Institute, including Hospital Clínico San Carlos, Hospital Universitario 12 de Octubre and Hospital Gregorio Marañón, offering a range of medical and surgical services. The faculty includes renowned investigators in basic and clinical areas.  In 2003, the school conferred 18 Doctoral degrees. At present, there are over 3,200 students enrolled in the various specialty programs. 

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center