A unanimous vote Saturday morning by the 15 board members of Banner Health made plans a “go” for the creation of the Valley’s first comprehensive cancer center.
The Arizona Cancer Center at Banner Health in Phoenix will be a partnership between Banner Health and Tucson’s Arizona Cancer Center at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, the only other such center in the state.
Planners hope the complex will be completed by 2009.
Currently, Tucson’s center is one of only 39 in the country designated as a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute.
To qualify for this designation, a center must be outstanding in research, treatment, education and prevention under NCI guidelines.
“Phoenix is by far the most major city in the United States without its own comprehensive cancer center,” said Dr. David Alberts, director of the Tucson center.
With the new center, Valley cancer patients will gain access to clinical trials only available at NCI-designated centers.
Project planners say collaboration is a priority.
The planners hope to cultivate a strong working relationship with community physicians through the sharing of patients and expertise.
Susan Edwards, president of Banner Health Arizona, said local physicians are being consulted throughout the project’s planning stages.
Ultimately, the center will incorporate office space for these physicians, she said.
Alberts said the center plans to collaborate with and recruit from the Translational Genomics Research Institute, a nonprofit organization where researchers pioneer treatments for leukemia and cancers of the lung, breast, colon and prostate.
Other researchers will hail from the University of Arizona College of Medicine — Phoenix, which is scheduled to open in July.
The hospital section of the cancer center will have 145 beds.
The next steps for the planners of the center are to hire a deputy for Alberts, who’ll serve as the center’s director, and to select an architectural firm within the month.
The search for the firm so far has narrowed from 21 to six.
The project is funded by Banner Health and may cost around $250 million, Edwards said.
She said the center’s location hasn’t been finalized, but it will be in downtown Phoenix, close to Banner Good Samaritan Hospital and the UA College of Medicine campus.