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Okla. to Construct $95M Center for Cancer Patients

Sat January 06, 2007 - West Edition
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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Construction is set to begin in March on a new $95-million proton therapy cancer center in Oklahoma City that will open in 2009, officials said.

Seven physicians associated with Radiation Medicine Associates and Radiation Oncology Associates, both of Oklahoma City, are partnering with ProCure Treatment Centers Inc. to build the first private practice proton therapy center in the United States.

Location of the 55,000-sq.-ft. facility has not been selected, said Hadley Ford, chief executive officer of Bloomington, Ind.-based ProCure.

“We hope to have a shovel in the ground in March,” Ford said. “We’ll see our first patient in the second quarter of 2009.”

ProCure was founded in 2005 by John Cameron, a particle physics researcher at Indiana University. He played a key role in the creation of one of the nation’s first proton therapy treatment facilities, the Midwest Proton Radiotherapy Institute in Bloomington.

The new center, one of only six proton therapy centers in the United States, will treat up to 1,500 patients annually, Ford said.

When completed, the Oklahoma City proton therapy center will create 100 full-time jobs with average salaries of more than $100,000, the officials said.

The Oklahoma City ProCure Treatment Center will employ physicists, engineers, radiation therapists and nurses. The company is building a training center in Indiana.

William C. Goad, who founded Radiation Medical Associates in 2001 with John Taylor, said physicians at both of the Oklahoma City radiation oncology practices will continue their practices and retain contracts with local hospitals.

“We see this as complementary to our practice,” Goad said. “Protons are going to be very, very significant in terms of providing better patient care.”

Goad and ProCure officials said the Oklahoma City proton treatment center also would be complementary to the new cancer research center under construction at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

“It’s another tool in the toolbox for the oncologist to use to make sure the patient has access to the right technology and the right treatment,” said Chris Chandler, senior vice president of marketing of ProCure.

Ford added: “Even though proton radiation may cost marginally more than standard radiation and less than surgery, the fact that you drastically reduce the side effects and the complications provides a much higher quality of life to the patient.

“It’s hard to put a dollar figure on that.”