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Pheo Para Alliance Designates Huntsman Cancer Institute as First Center of Excellence


For Immediate Release
May 5, 2021
Contact: Stephanie Alband

Salt Lake City, UT – Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah is the first center to receive a Center of Excellence designation from Pheo Para Alliance, a patient advocacy organization dedicated to supporting those with pheochromocytoma (pheo) and paraganglioma (para), a rare neuroendocrine tumor. In approximately 35% of those diagnosed with pheo and para, the tumor is a result of a genetic mutation, which can be passed down to children. Therefore, care for people and families with pheo and para requires a team of experts including cancer specialists and genetic counselors.

The Center of Excellence Program recognizes institutions worldwide for providing cutting-edge, quality, multi-disciplinary care and participating in pheo and para and related research.  Huntsman Cancer Institute, a nationally recognized research center and treatment hospital in Salt Lake City, serves over 250 pheo and para patients from throughout the Mountain West, including Utah and parts of Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and Wyoming. HCI is part of the University of Utah Health system.

Eli Soto, Chair of the Board of Directors and patient, states, “We look forward to working with the highly-regarded Huntsman Cancer Institute.  Their passion for the patient community, knowledge of the illness, and drive to find answers through research, sets a high standard for other Center of Excellence applicants.  This program will benefit patients for generations to come.”

About Pheo Para Alliance

Founded in 2007, the Pheo Para Alliance, a 501c3 organization, is the longest standing internationally recognized leader in advocacy for, and awareness of, pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma. Since its inception, the Pheo Para Alliance has dedicated more than $2 million to fulfill its mission to empower patients with pheo or para, their families and medical professionals through advocacy, education and a global community of support, while helping to advance research that accelerates treatments and cures. For more information go to

About Pheo Para

Pheo and para are rare slow-growing neuroendocrine tumors. Approximately 1 in 3,500 will develop a pheo or para in their life. Pheos develop in cells in the center of the adrenal gland just above the kidneys.  Paras develop most commonly, in the head, neck, chest, abdomen, or pelvis.  Both can produce an excess amount of hormones called catecholamines.  This leads to symptoms such as high blood pressure, severe anxiety, sweating, headaches, and even stroke and heart attack.  If left untreated, metastasis can occur, ultimately leading to death.  But, if detected early, pheo and para can be successfully treated in the vast majority of cases. Approximately 35% of all pheos and paras diagnosed are the result of a genetic mutation that leads to a greater risk of developing the illness and can be passed down through children.

About Huntsman Cancer Institute

Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah is the official cancer center of Utah. The cancer campus includes a state-of-the-art cancer specialty hospital as well as two buildings dedicated to cancer research. HCI treats patients with all forms of cancer and is recognized among the best cancer hospitals in the country by U.S. News and World Report. As the only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in the Mountain West, HCI serves the largest geographic region in the country, drawing patients from Utah, Nevada, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana. More genes for inherited cancers have been discovered at HCI than at any other cancer center in the world, including genes responsible for hereditary breast, ovarian, colon, head, and neck cancers, along with melanoma. HCI manages the Utah Population Database, the largest genetic database in the world, with information on more than 11 million people linked to genealogies, health records, and vital statistics. HCI was founded by Jon M. and Karen Huntsman.