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Next steps, new leader for Mayo Clinic Cancer Center

Next steps, new leader for Mayo Clinic Cancer Center
October 11, 2021

Dr. Cheryl Willman was named executive director of Mayo Clinic Cancer Programs, and director of the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center in May. In this role, Dr. Willman is leading the expansion and strategic development of Mayo Clinic Cancer Center locations in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota, as well as newly developing Mayo Clinic global cancer programs in London and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Mayo Clinic Cancer Center is designated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) as a comprehensive cancer center. At comprehensive cancer centers, staff coordinate innovative cancer care delivery for patients; conduct team-based cancer research to develop better means to prevent, detect and treat cancer; involve communities and patients in research; and train the next generation of cancer health professionals. Mayo Clinic Cancer Center offers its patients access to hundreds of clinical trials in all phases that test new and improved cancer treatments. 

"We have a menu of over 300 cancer clinical trials every year that are testing new drugs and bringing treatments to patients," says Dr. Willman. "Cancer clinical trials are essential to advancing our knowledge in cancer care."

Work is underway at Mayo Clinic Cancer Center to grow the Cancer Care at Home program and engage local communities, which can help address disparities in health care. Other initiatives include making advances in radiation therapy techniques and using genomics to develop individualized care for patients.

Mayo Clinic Cancer Center also is expanding the use of patient navigators, allowing cancer patients to have one point of contact to help them navigate the complexities of cancer care that often involves many specialists. 

"For a breast cancer patient, for example, that would include breast cancer surgeons, medical oncologists who give chemotherapy, radiation oncologists who give radiation, but also physical medicine and rehabilitation, nutrition, psychosocial support, and access to clinical trials," says Dr. Willman. "A patient navigator becomes the primary contact person for a patient we're caring for and truly navigates them through all of their providers."

On the Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. Willman discusses the innovations taking place at Mayo Clinic to improve cancer care for patients.