Right on schedule, the Arizona Cancer Center at UMC Orange Grove began treating radiation oncology patients early last month.

That capped a $7.4 million building and equipment addition that began in January 2010, adding 12,000 square feet to the clinic at 1891 W. Orange Grove Road, just east of North La Cholla Boulevard.

University Medical Center took over Arizona Hematology Oncology in November 2007 and already had been seeing patients there.

The addition expands the clinic's capacity from 3,000 to an eventual 15,000 patient visits per year.

"It was the intention all along to add radiation oncology there so it's all services under one roof," said Arizona Cancer Center spokeswoman Sara Hammond.

Now, cancer patients can see their radiation oncologist, medical oncologist and surgical oncologist - for office visits only - in one trip.

Radiation treatments tend to be every day for several weeks, so this is better for northwest-siders who want to have treatments near home, Hammond said.

For now, five radiation oncologists who care for patients at UMC will rotate through the Orange Grove office, and within the next year the clinic will hire a radiation oncologist to work there full-time, she said.

One of the radiation oncologists already at work there is Baldassarre "Dino" Stea, who called the new arrangement "the Mayo Clinic approach."

A patient stays in one room and different specialists come to the patient to discuss treatment, he said.

"We all review the same MRIs, the same CT scans, the same X-rays," he said.

The patient doesn't have to wait, make a new appointment with the next doctor and haul images and records from one specialist to the next.

"It's a faster service, and we're shrinking the time from diagnosis to treatment, which is very important when you have a diagnosis of cancer," Stea said.

Contact reporter Shelley Shelton at sshelton@azstarnet.com or 807-8464.