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Baylor Health Care, U.S. Oncology in talks on new proton center

by Brendon Nafziger, DOTmed News Associate Editor | June 17, 2011
Baylor Health Care's
flagship hospital in Dallas
(Credit: Baylor)
An affiliate of the Baylor Health Care System hospital chain is in talks with U.S. Oncology, one of the country's largest cancer doctor services groups, and Texas Oncology, a local oncology group, to bring proton therapy to the Dallas-Forth Worth area.

The companies haven't divulged many details, but in a statement Friday said the proposed North Texas facility would feature a "smaller footprint than first-generation proton facilities, which occupied the space of an entire football field." It would also provide services through Texas Oncology, and if all goes well, will be built in two to three years, the companies said.

A spokeswoman for U.S. Oncology, which was bought by McKesson Corp. last year, told DOTmed News by e-mail that "we don't have many additional details to share beyond what's contained in the release." But she said the process for completing the project includes selecting a technology vendor, building site and construction contractor, and reaching a final agreement among the partners.

Currently, the only proton therapy center in Texas is one run by the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. The center is one of only nine such facilities in the United States.

"[T]he proton therapy center is yet another example of Baylor's desire to be a leader in providing North Texans with advanced cancer care and treatment options," Baylor president John McWhorter said in a statement about the proposal.

Earlier this spring, Baylor Health Care, which runs about 25 hospitals and whose affiliate Baylor Health Enterprises is part of the current talks, opened the new Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center. A dedicated cancer hospital, the second part of the $350 million project, is scheduled to open in 2013.

Other proton facilities in development

If the talks pan out, the North Texas proton facility will join almost half a dozen other multimillion dollar cancer treatment centers under development.

For instance, in March, proton therapy center chain Procure Treatment Centers Inc. and the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance broke ground on a $160 million Seattle center.

ProCure also has a $162 million center in Somerset, N.J. scheduled to open in April of next year, and is in the preliminary stages of developing a two-room center in Michigan with William Beaumont Hospitals and another center with Boca Raton Radiation Oncology Associates in south Florida.

Other proton therapy centers being built include the $65 million McLaren Proton Therapy Center in Flint, Mich., the $119 million ProVision Trust Proton Therapy Center in Knoxville and the $185 million Scripps Health center in San Diego County. Mayo Clinic also has two $180 million centers being developed in Arizona and Minnesota.

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