Cancer center to be built in Franklin NJ will offer high-tech treatment

By Rick Malwitz, Staff Writer
February 23, 2010

SOMERSET — Construction will begin in April on a cancer-treatment center that will cover an area the size of a football field and feature a 222-ton accelerator used to send radiation to tumors with millimeter precision.

The center is a joint venture of ProCure Treatment Centers, Princeton Radiation Oncology and the CentraState Health System of Freehold.

The facility will cost about $160 million. If construction proceeds on schedule, it will receive patients in March 2012.

Hadley Ford, CEO of ProCure, said Somerset was chosen because of its location: "We wanted to be close to the (CentraState) market, and close to New York. Central New Jersey is an ideal location."

The facility will be located at 101-103 Cedar Grove Lane. It will be one of six in operation or under construction by ProCure of Bloomington, Ind.

"We're quite excited about this facility coming to town, adding to our growing medically-related economic base," said Township Manager Ken Daly.

"We fast-tracked the permits," said Mayor Brian Levine. "We didn't want them to dangle in red tape."

Currently, the closest proton-therapy centers are at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. ProCure will have the first facility in the New York metropolitan area.

According to the National Cancer Institute, proton therapy is a form of radiation therapy that "can be used to target high doses of proton beam therapy to a tumor while doing less damage to normal tissues in front of and behind the tumor."

Ford explained that protons are sent from a cyclotron at 60 percent the speed of light. The protons go into a vacuum tube and are steered by magnets to a specific location in the patient's body.

"An x-ray hits everything in its path, and goes through the body doing collateral damage. With proton therapy all the energy goes to a specific point in space, and stops at the tumor," said Ford.

"You get more radiation into the tumor and less into tissue," said Ford.

Proton treatment is more expensive than traditional radiation treatment. Medicare pays about $50,000 for proton treatment therapy, more than twice what it pays for radiation therapy.

There will be four treatment rooms with walls about 11 feet thick.

"A number of our radiation oncologists have treated cancer with proton therapy and seen first-hand how effective it can be," said Dr. Brian Chon, a partner with Princeton Radiation Oncology.

The radiation oncology practice, which has offices in Princeton, Jamesburg, Flemington and Freehold, will provide clinical care at the center.

ProCure opened its first center in Oklahoma City. The second is under construction in the Chicago suburb of Warrenville, Ill. Others are under development by ProCure in Seattle, Detroit and South Florida.


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