• Arizona

    Mayo Clinic and Phoenix Children’s Hospital Collaborate to Treat Children with Complex Cancers

PHOENIX—Mayo Clinic in Arizona, in collaboration with Phoenix Children’s Hospital, has begun treating pediatric patients with complex cancers, using a course of outpatient radiation therapy administered on Mayo’s Phoenix campus.

Phoenix Children’s Hospital refers pediatric patients to Mayo Clinic for radiation therapy who are experiencing brain tumors, leukemia, _MG_7036_1Wilms’ tumor, neuroblastomas, sarcomas and some solid tumors, according to Carol Davis, the Ambulatory Business Operations manager for Phoenix Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders. Children who are hospitalized at Phoenix Children’s Hospital are transported to Mayo via ambulance, while others come with their parents for the outpatient treatment.

Mayo and Phoenix Children’s Hospital have collaborated for a number of years on clinical programs, including pediatric bone marrow transplants and pediatric liver transplants. Radiation Oncology is yet another such collaboration, which maximizes the expertise of both Valley institutions.

Lynn Closway, Mayo Clinic, 480-301-4337, Closway.lynn@mayo.edu

Stacy Dillier, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, 602-933-0824, Sdillier@phoenixchildrens.com

The Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, ranked by U.S. News and World Report as one of the best pediatric cancer centers, is the largest of its kind in Arizona, and Phoenix Children’s is recognized as a leader in advancing research to find cures for childhood cancer. Mayo Clinic Hospital, ranked the No. 1 hospital in Arizona by U.S. News & World Report, is a National Cancer Institute (NCI) designated Comprehensive Cancer Center that brings together teams of experts to combine personalized cancer treatment with leading-edge research.

Mayo is now treating pediatric patients in its Radiation Oncology program as part of the transition to the opening of its proton beam therapy facility—the first in the Southwest—in the spring of 2016. Proton beam therapy is a highly targeted, accurate method of administering radiation therapy, well suited for delivering higher doses of radiation to tumors, while minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissue and organs.

Thomas Daniels, M.D., Radiation Oncology at Mayo Clinic, explains that because of the precision of proton beam therapy, children with certain cancers, such as brain tumors, have a good chance of both short-term and long-term survival because of the reduced potential collateral damage later in life. He sees the advent of proton beam therapy as being a huge advantage to pediatric patients.

Treating children with radiation therapy is usually a daily, outpatient procedure covering a period of weeks.  The procedure requires sedation in younger children—not because of pain, but because the child needs to remain immobile during treatment to enhance the outcome.

A customized, calming approach is used to minimize anxiety—for both the child and the parents. “With this kind of treatment, it’s important to fully educate parents about what to expect when their child undergoes treatment and anesthesia,” says Narjeet Khurmi, M.D., Anesthesiology at Mayo Clinic.

Kim Froehle, a Child Life Specialist for the Phoenix Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, works with young patients and their families to help them transition to radiation therapy, educating them about what to expect and to make their experience as comfortable as possible, minimizing their fears. In many cases, four-legged friends from the Caring Canine program at Mayo are there to greet the children when they emerge from anesthesia.

Still, Froehle confirms that she frequently witnesses amazing resiliency in young patients. “Kids far surpass adults in facing these challenges,” she says.


About Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit worldwide leader in medical care, research and education for people from all walks of life. For more information, visit www.mayoclinic.org and newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org.

About Phoenix Children’s Hospital

Phoenix Children’s Hospital is Arizona’s only children’s hospital that is ranked in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Children’s Hospitals. Phoenix Children's provides world-class inpatient, outpatient, trauma, emergency and urgent care to children and families in Arizona and throughout the Southwest. As one of the largest children’s hospitals in the country, Phoenix Children’s provides care across more than 75 pediatric specialties. The hospital is poised for continued growth in quality patient care, research and medical education. For more information about the hospital, visit http://www.phoenixchildrens.org/.