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Duke to expand Cancer Center to meet growing demands

Despite tough economic times, Duke University Hospital announced last week their proposal for an expansion to their Cancer Center.

The Duke center is only 20 minutes from the N.C. Cancer Hospital at UNC-Chapel Hill, but the growing number of cancer patients in the Triangle area has created a need for an additional facility at Duke, members of the medical community said.

The number of people needing cancer treatment is growing yearly due to the growing and aging population in the Triangle, said Shelton Earp, director of the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center at UNC Hospitals.

“Death rates are going down, which shows that the methods used in our cancer hospitals work, and need to be expanded,” Earp said.

Victor Dzau, chancellor for health affairs at Duke University, said in a statement that the number of patients staying at the center is expected to grow by 12 percent between 2006 and 2016.

The N.C. Department of Health expects a 14 percent growth in new cancer cases in the state between 2006 and 2011, and a 21 percent increase in the Triangle.

The Duke expansion will entail an additional building — a seven-floor facility with new MRI scanners and CT scanners. The new center is expected to begin operating in 2012.

An estimated $650 million will be spent on the center and will be funded mostly by the university.

To deal with this growth, the cancer hospital at UNC-Chapel Hill also received $150 million from the N.C. General Assembly, Earp said.

The funds will be used for research and renovation of the core facilities at the UNC center to give the best patient care in the country, he said.

Karen McCall, spokeswoman for UNC Hospitals, said that when it comes to saving people’s lives, there is no room for competition between the hospitals.

The efforts of both UNC Hospitals and Duke University Health System are directed toward collaboration and finding new ways to saving people’s lives, she said.

“Both are premier cancer treatment centers in the state of North Carolina. People from all over the state come here,” she said.

“Duke and UNC Hospitals conduct top-notch cancer research in the country.”


Contact the State & National Editor at stntdesk@unc.edu.

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