Dr. Gordon Grado is the Founder and Medical Director of the Southwest Oncology Centers and the Grado Radiation Center of Excellence. He was born in Waterloo, Iowa and grew up in the Midwest. He has been married for 30 years to wife, research coordinator and co-author of numerous articles, Mary Grado. They have three children, Katherine, Gordon Jr. and Michael.
Dr. Grado became interested in brachytherapy for the treatment of cancer in 1977, while in medical school. He received his M.D. degree from Southern Illinois University School of Medicine and completed his internship at the University of Chicago followed by a residency to specialize in the treatment of cancer with radiation at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
Dr. Grado established his brachytherapy program in 1989 while he was the Chairman of the Radiation Oncology Department, located at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona. After reviewing various techniques and programs that were available to treat prostate cancer, Dr. Grado and a team of other specialists developed the first interactive program that would utilize both biplane transferal ultrasound and fluoroscopic imaging. This image guided, interactive technique had a marked improvement over previous techniques because it allowed for the precise placement and distribution of radioactive sources throughout the prostate. To date, Dr. Grado has personally performed over 4,000 brachytherapy procedures.
In June of 2000, Dr. Grado was personally invited by Jane Hull, the Governor of Arizona to be a member of the Prostate Cancer Task Force. Dr. Grado also is an invited member of the Arizona Medicare Carrier Advisory Committee. This committee, along with the Carrier Medical Director for the state of Arizona, review proposed and revised drafts that will then be accepted as the local medical review policy. Both of these invited positions carry a great deal of responsibility and commitment with them that our program embraces and continues to nurture. Our mission has always been to be at the forefront of our profession, and these two positions allow our program to get information on state-of-the-art advancements, potential problems or critical issues to the appropriate government officials in a timely fashion.
Our program was chosen last year by one of the largest internationally recognized manufacturers of pharmaceutical and brachytherapy seeds and supplies for a new educational training course. Dr. Grado teaches advanced prostate brachytherapy technique and program development to other physicians and their staff. The purpose of this course is to assist physicians who are currently performing brachytherapy to strengthen their programs through a greater understanding of the issues relating to dosimetry, ultrasound visualization and operative technique. This integrated program was designed to be highly personalized with individual interaction with our entire team consisting of our physicist, dosimetrist, clinical and surgical nursing staff who assist Dr. Grado with this innovative program.
For several years, Dr. Grado has been affiliated with the University of Minnesota Radiation Oncology Staff as an Associate Professor. It allows Dr. Grado the chance to work with an interdisciplinary team of experts in radiation therapy, urology and medical oncology to continue his commitment to conducting groundbreaking research and providing exceptional patient care. Because Arizona welcomes an unusually large population of winter visitors from the Midwest, coupled with Dr. Grado’s commitment to substantially improve the prognosis and quality of life for prostate cancer patients, this made the University of Minnesota and our clinics in Arizona a perfect fit. It also serves as an additional opportunity for the medical students of the University program to travel to our clinics in Arizona to participate in our programs to gain further experience.
Dr. Grado states, “At the University of Minnesota, I have the opportunity to participate in the care of patients from all over the United States as well as from other countries. Patients want to be treated close to home, yet they want to receive the benefits of cutting-edge research. I feel we can satisfy both of these needs by having a system that is easily reproducible at all of our locations. All sites share the same sophisticated software that lets us treat the tumor and spare the surrounding normal tissues.
Dr. Grado continues to work with radiation facilities around the world to help in the training and perfection of prostate brachytherapy. Among the international sites Dr. Grado has visited are San Paulo and Porto Alegre (Brazil), Mexico City (Mexico) and Beijing (China). Dr. Marcio Fagundes of the Centro de Oncologia Radioterapica de RGS (COR) invited Dr. Grado to travel to Brazil and teach the seed implant procedure to urologists and radiation oncologist in Porto Alegre. Dr. Grado and Dr. Fagundes appeared on a television broadcast to discuss the procedure for patients interested in new treatment methods for prostate cancer.
Most recently, Dr. Grado traveled to Queretaro and Mexico City, Mexico to direct and supervise a training program in prostate brachytherapy. Dr. Grado was also the keynote speaker at a presentation to the Swedish Embassy in Mexico City. Teaching is an important aspect of Dr. Grado’s career and he thoroughly enjoys interacting with medical students, residents and medical peers.