ProCure Proton Therapy Center set to open in JulyPublished: Monday, June 15, 2009 7:00 am By: Heather Caliendo
When ProCure Proton Therapy Center opens in July, Ed Bertels said it will help put Oklahoma health care in the national limelight.
"This facility shows the nation we are serious about cancer care," said Bertels, president of the Oklahoma City ProCure Proton Therapy Center. "We're excited to have another weapon in the toolbox against fighting cancer."
Just like standard X-ray radiation, proton therapy destroys cancer cells by preventing them from dividing and growing.
But the power of protons is that higher doses of radiation can be used to control and manage cancer while significantly reducing damage to healthy tissue and vital organs.
Indiana-based ProCure Treatment Centers was founded in 2005.
ProCure has a training and development center for medical professionals in proton therapy, as well as two proton therapy centers under construction and another two in development.
The new center in Oklahoma will be the sixth center in the country focusing on proton therapies.
It sits at 55,000 square feet and is on the Integris Cancer Institute campus.
Bertels said the center's affiliation with Integris can help offer patients a full range of comprehensive care.
Clinical care will be provided by the state's radiation oncology practice with the Radiation Medicine Association.
In addition to the RMA physicians, ProCure has hired 100 full-time medical providers.
There are 1.4 million new cancer cases each year, and of those, about 60 percent of the patients will seek radiation therapy at some point during care.
The center will be able to help 1,500 patients annually. Bertels anticipates many will come from out of state.
Treatment typically lasts six to eight weeks, so many out-of-state patients will have to stay in Oklahoma City.
Measuring the impact of a new cancer center is a lot more than just economics, said Jill Harrison, manager of public relations and image development for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber.
"Centers such as this one will make a quality-of-life impact on the patients and families who receive treatment here," she said. "While it has a direct job impact, it also improves the overall health care services for Oklahoma."
Sameer Keole, physician with the Radiation Medicine Association, helped develop a proton center at the University of Florida.
Keole said he came to Oklahoma because he was excited for the opportunity to help open a new center.
Proton therapy has been used since the 1950s, and Keole said the field continues to evolve.
"What's happening now is imaging techniques to localize the cancer have advanced," he said. "Proton therapy is just ready now to really take off."