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From Cancer Clinic to Renowned Cancer Center: UNC Health Pardee Reflects on Decades of Service and Growth

A cancer diagnosis is a pivotal and heartbreaking moment for a patient, completely upending their life. At UNC Health Pardee, we understand the emotional, mental and physical challenges a patient deals with as they face the disease. More importantly, we understand that being close to home and near a support system can make a valuable difference in a patient’s cancer journey. That understanding and a commitment to investing in patient-focused cancer care are  key factors in the success of our program, spanning decades in our community and serving countless patients.

A history of compassionate care

For more than 20 years, Pardee has invested in cancer services through a robust cancer research program, the creation of a comprehensive cancer center and innovative technology. But at the heart of it all are our people – a highly-trained and deeply committed team of specialists and caregivers.

Cancer care at Pardee began in 1993 with the opening of the Kayden Radiation Oncology Center. In 1999, retired oncologist and Order of the Longleaf Pine recipient, Dr. James Radford established Pardee’s Cancer Research Program with the intent of moving beyond a treatment-only focus. Dr. Radford remained the principal investigator for over 22 years and said creating the program felt like it was his duty and a way to make life better for people. He wanted to “move the field forward” for his kids, grandkids and everyone else.

The clinical trials programs at Pardee, through which patients can access a large number of national and international clinical trials of new cancer therapies, began with only Dr. Radford and one research nurse, Karen Morris. Morris ultimately became the Cancer Research Coordinator for the program which has grown to four researchers, maintaining 50 to 55 open studies since the program’s inception.

Commitment to quality

Pardee has continuously earned accreditation from the Commission on Cancer (CoC) for meeting quality care standards and maintaining levels of excellence in the delivery of integrated, comprehensive patient-centered care. As an accredited breast center through the National Accreditation Program for Breast Cancers (NAPBC), Pardee also provides patients with the support of a multidisciplinary group of healthcare professionals who are committed to working together to use their specialties to provide the best possible care. A commitment to uphold these standards every three years is evidence of Pardee’s goal to provide high-quality, compassionate care.

Expansion of services

Pardee has spent the last several years expanding its cancer services team and upgrading its facilities, as it strives to provide patients with the care they need and the technology they deserve. From front desk staff to oncologists, Pardee is focused on providing patients more efficient and high-quality cancer care.

Our High-Risk Breast Clinic identifies patients who are at high risk for breast cancer. Women with a family history of breast cancer may be at greater risk; yearly screening mammograms may not be sufficient for early breast cancer detection. In our dedicated high-risk clinic, the team can perform comprehensive risk assessments to determine a patient’s lifetime risk for being diagnosed with breast cancer. This information helps to inform and guide future imaging, genetic testing options and clinical follow-up to yield the best breast health for each patient.

Innovative technology

With generous support from many donors, most notably Kenmure Fights Cancer, Pardee has improved access and treatment for cancer patients. Pardee’s breast imaging is equipped with contrast-enhanced mammography (CEM) software, another tool to help with the early detection of breast cancer. If a patient has an abnormality on a mammogram or ultrasound, specialists can use this software to further investigate the issue.

To aid in better detection and treatment of certain tumors, Pardee invested in two new specialty tracers for PET scans, one for prostate cancer and one for neuroendocrine tumors. These tracers target specific areas of concern in the scanning process which equates to more appropriate treatments.

Most recently, Pardee launched its mobile mammography program, Mammo on the Go, offering state-of-the-art, digital 3D breast imaging and early detection services to women in Buncombe, Henderson, Polk and Transylvania counties. It’s staffed by specially trained female mammographers certified in breast imaging. All images are interpreted by board-certified radiologists.

Here for you

From the start, Pardee has envisioned providing cancer patients access to care, close to home. With the investment in cancer care technology, treatment options, and highly-trained and compassionate staff, we’ve seen that come to fruition, as thousands of patients have recovered from cancer and their lives have been saved.


Learn more about Pardee Cancer Center

Brian Leutner, MBA

Vice President of Clinical Services
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