Dallas-Fort Worth will have competing proton-therapy facilities by 2015.
Dallas-based Texas Oncology, supported by McKesson Specialty Health; and Baylor Health Enterprises, an affiliate of Baylor Health Care System, announced Friday it will build a $105 million proton therapy facility in Irving.
As D Healthcare Daily reported in July, UT Southwestern plans to operate a 100,000-square foot proton therapy center near its Medical District campus in Dallas.
The $225 million center is being built and funded by San Diego-based Advanced Particle Therapy (ATP). The company hopes to break ground on a 4.5-acre site in early 2013. The three-story building, which will have five treatment rooms, will take about three years to build and equip.
Proton therapy is an advanced form of radiation treatment, designed to treat specific pediatric and adult cancers, often with fewer side effects.
The 50,000-square-foot Irving facility—which will be half the cost and half the size of the UT Southwestern facility—will be located at 1501 W. Royal Lane.
Company officials say construction will begin in 2013; they anticipate the first patients will be treated in late 2015. Final economic incentives are pending approvals later this month by Irving City Council and Dallas County Utility and Reclamation District.
The healthcare organizations favored the Irving location because it was equidistant to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and Love Field, and convenient to nearby hotels. The partnership announced its intention to build the facility in June 2011.
“This is a landmark day for cancer patients,” said Chris Wallace, president and CEO, Irving Economic Development Partnership. “The proton therapy facility will immediately make Irving-Las Colinas and the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex a destination for world-class medical and cancer care services. We are proud that Baylor, Texas Oncology and McKesson Specialty Health have elected to build such a distinguished and coveted facility in Irving.”
The facility will provide services through Texas Oncology. Patients also will have the opportunity to participate in clinical trials through its relationship with U.S. Oncology Research.
The center is expected employ about 50 people. Dr. Steven Paulson, chairman and president of Texas Oncology, said he expects the majority of cancer patient referrals will Dallas-Fort Worth healthcare providers, other parts of Texas and neighboring states. Texas Oncology has about 135 practice locations in the state.
Texas Oncology is a member of The U.S. Oncology Network, which includes physician-owned oncology practices nationally, which may also refer patients to the facility.
The facility will be constructed with newer technology than first-generation facilities. Belgium-based Ion Beam Applications (IBA) has been selected to provide the proton technology.
Dr. Scott Cheek, Texas Oncology radiation oncology at Baylor’s Sammons Cancer Center, said the partners selected IBA because it has what he calls “second-generation technology.”
The facility will include a proton cyclotron, two treatment rooms, a fixed-beam treatment room and advanced image guidance technology. Cheek said IBA uses a smaller cyclotron, making it less expensive to build.
There are 11 proton therapy centers in the United States. Cheek said he expects more to be built as the technology becomes less expensive.
Cheek said it was “a good question” whether DFW could support two proton therapy centers.
“We’re going to find out. We feel pretty confident in our product,” he said.
More than 1.6 million Americans are diagnosed with cancer. Proton therapy provides highly targeted radiation treatment designed to treat many pediatric and adult cancers, including tumors in the brain, head and neck, lung and prostate.
Houston-based Linbeck Group has been selected to build the facility, which is being designed by Dallas-based RTKL Associates.
Steve Jacob is editor of D Healthcare Daily and author of the new book Health Care in 2020: Where Uncertain Reform, Bad Habits, Too Few Doctors and Skyrocketing Costs Are Taking Us. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.