The US model of Cancer Centres created by the National Cancer Act in 1971 has been one of the most tried and tested models of organised disease-specific scientific endeavors in the world. With many countries, particularly those in Europe now looking to develop the research arms of their National Cancer Control Programmes through the development of similar Cancer Centres the time is correct to consider the success and limitations of the US effort to date. Here we described the salient features of both US Cancer Centres and Networks, including their funding and evaluation with socio-political analysis on the learning points for Europe. In particular we highlight issues around sustainable funding, training and network development. New data highlighting deficiencies in the US model around prevention, health promotion, health inequalities in cancer outcomes, and clinical research provide key learning points and opportunities for the European model developed.