Phoenix Mayo Clinic Opens New Cancer Center, Proton Beam Therapy Program

By Andrew Bernier
Published: Monday, February 22, 2016 - 7:29am
Updated: Monday, February 22, 2016 - 4:46pm
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(Photo by Andrew Bernier - KJZZ)
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and other officials at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center.
(Photo by Andrew Bernier - KJZZ)
The Mayo Clinic Cancer Center in north Phoenix provides a dedicated facility to the hospital's practicing oncologists.

Traditional radiation treatment for cancer can hurt as many healthy cells as cancerous ones. Now a Valley hospital is opening a new cancer center linked to a national network which includes pencil-thin radiation targeting often deadly tumors.

The Mayo Clinic Cancer Center in north Phoenix provides a dedicated facility to the hospital's practicing oncologists. Ruben Mesa, director of the Cancer Center, said having a common facility can better unite doctors and researchers working on a wide variety of cancers.

“We have behind us and try to optimize the function of 29 disease-specific teams and clinics that bring together surgeons, radiation oncologists and medical oncologists,” said Mesa.

The new center joins the national Mayo Clinic network of cancer centers. It also houses a new Proton Beam Therapy Program, which uses precision targeting to kill tumor cells with positively charged hydrogen atoms.

“We can accelerate and stop protons — and that’s a big deal. They’re much more precise than X-rays and while they’re not a panacea, for certain patients they offer significant advantages over traditional X-ray therapy," said program director Sameer Keole.

While chemotherapy radiation techniques like X-rays can kill cancerous cells, they often take a toll on surrounding healthy tissue. The new proton beam can best help patients with hard to reach tumors close to critical organ tissue.

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