Banner Health is planning to become a major cancer network in the Valley with a $100 million research facility on its Good Samaritan Medical Center campus in Phoenix and comprehensive cancer treatment centers at most Banner hospitals.
Banner’s board of directors has given the green light to develop a business plan for what could be the state’s largest cancer and bioscience research center. Health system officials say they want to bring advances in the laboratory directly to cancer patients.
"We want to be able to offer people Phase 1 clinical trials and build up momentum for biosciences research," said Susan Dimpfel, Banner’s regional oncology service line director. "Having research and patient care side-by-side will translate into actual benefits for people living day-to-day with these diseases."
Banner’s plan to build comprehensive cancer centers at most of its hospitals has already begun. Banner Desert Medical Center in Mesa is adding offices for medical oncologists and a 20-bay infusion area for chemotherapy.
All the components of cancer care — radiation, chemo- therapy, and surgery — will be coordinated in one area, said David Price, Banner’s administrative director for the oncology service line.
Such coordination is important in cancer treatment, which requires the average patient to undergo 18 courses of radiation and 15 courses of chemotherapy, he said.
"These are patients who are quite sick. To have (treatment) in one place, it’s so nice for patients and families," he said.
Other health systems with cancer centers include Scottsdale Healthcare, Mayo Clinic Scottsdale and the University of Arizona. The Valley, however, is low on cancer centers, Dimpfel said.
"We are very behind the times," she said. "Any population like this should have many (more) cancer centers."
About one in four new cancer cases statewide were diagnosed at Banner facilities last year. With 6,200 cancer cases last year, Banner has the ability to help many people with cuttingedge research and coordinated care, Dimpfel said.
Development of the research center, which hasn’t yet been named, is in its early stages. Final approval is needed by the board of directors. Banner officials are exploring research partnerships with organizations including the Translational Genomics Research Institute in Phoenix.
"I’m sure they would want to take advantage of having those good research organizations in town," said Keith Jones, a spokesman for Scottsdale Healthcare and the International Genomics Consortium in Phoenix. "Having a large base of cancer patients aids in cancer research."
Banner Desert in Mesa has nearly 1,000 cancer cases each year, a volume that nearly matches the state’s largest hospitals, Price said.
"With baby boomers transitioning to ages with higher incidents of cancer, we’re projecting to see a skyrocket in cancer volumes."
The hospital also is building a $2.2 million, 10-bed inpatient unit for children with cancer and a $5 million radiation oncology expansion project.
Banner Desert’s cancer center, like the other cancer centers planned at Banner hospitals, will tie into the research center in Phoenix, which is targeted for completion in 2007, Dimpfel said.