; Blue Distinction Centers for Complex and Rare Cancers (Focusing on Complex Inpatient and Surgical Care)
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Blue Distinction Centers for Complex and Rare Cancers (Focusing on Complex Inpatient and Surgical Care)

Blue Distinction Centers for Complex and Rare Cancers (Focusing on Complex Inpatient and Surgical Care)


Complex and rare cancers comprise approximately 15 percent of new cancer cases each year. Blue Distinction Centers for Complex and Rare Cancers® are the first in a line of anticipated Blue Distinction Centers® focused on cancer treatment.

This initial phase evaluates facilities on patient assessment, treatment planning, complex inpatient care and major surgical treatments for adults; all delivered by teams with distinguished expertise and subspecialty training for complex and rare cancers. The program focuses on the following 13 cancers:

  • Bladder cancer
  • Brain cancer – primary
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Gastric cancer
  • Liver cancer – primary
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Rectal cancer
  • Acute leukemia (inpatient, non-surgical)
  • Bone cancer – primary
  • Head and neck cancers
  • Ocular melanoma
  • Soft tissue sarcoma
  • Thyroid cancer – medullary or anaplastic

To date, approximately 90 of the nation's cancer facilities have been designated as Blue Distinction Centers for Complex and Rare Cancers.

To view the list of Blue Distinction Centers for Complex and Rare Cancers, please click on the link to launch a PDF. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader® to view the document. If you do not have Acrobat, please click here to download it for free.

Blue Distinction Centers for Complex and Rare Cancers were developed in strategic collaboration with the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN).** View a complete listing of NCCN member institutions.

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield System recognizes that the majority of patients' multidisciplinary treatment may be best accomplished by integrating the expertise available in a Blue Distinction Center with locally available treatment resources, especially for outpatient chemotherapy and radiotherapy, based on individual circumstances and patient preference. Optimal support of a patient's comprehensive cancer care needs may be achieved by coordination of care between the patient and their family, local physicians, the Blue Distinction Center and their local Blue Cross and Blue Shield company.

Blue Distinction Centers for Complex and Rare Cancers, along with Blue Distinction Centers for Bariatric Surgery®, Blue Distinction Centers for Cardiac Care®, Blue Distinction Centers for Knee and Hip Replacement®, Blue Distinction Center for Spine Surgery®, Blue Distinction Centers for Transplants® are a key part of The Blues®' effort to collaborate with doctors and facilities to improve the overall quality and, therefore, affordability, of specialty care.

Click here for additional resources regarding complex and rare cancers.

If you are a physician or hospital administrator interested in learning more or applying for the Blue Distinction designation for your medical facility, please click here.

Some Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies ("Plans") may already participate in local cancer care programs. The new Blue Distinction Centers for Complex and Rare Cancers program neither disrupts nor replaces the Plans' own existing programs.

* Specific subtypes of complex and rare cancers for which each facility met our selection criteria are identified alongside its name but are not intended as a comprehensive list of all cancer care services that the facility may offer.

**This organization has provided information and input, but does not formally endorse the Blue Distinction Centers® program.

Note: Designation as Blue Distinction Centers means these facilities' overall experience and aggregate data met objective criteria established in collaboration with expert clinicians' and leading professional organizations' recommendations.  Individual outcomes may vary.  To find out which services are covered under your policy at any facilities, please call your local Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield Plan; and call your provider before making an appointment, to verify the most current information on its Network participation and Blue Distinction status.  Neither Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association nor any of its Licensees are responsible for any damages, losses, or non-covered charges that may result from using this website or receiving care from a provider listed in this website.