Cancer Institute unveils region's only comprehensive cancer center

June 25, 2009

Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute unveiled its new home today -- the region’s only comprehensive cancer center, located on the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center campus. The 178,000-square-foot building is designed to foster collaboration between physicians and scientists devoted to providing comprehensive cancer care and discovering new treatments and cures.

The ground and first two floors are dedicated to patient care, with the top two floors housing research labs and office space. The two floors of outpatient clinics include two minor procedure rooms, four consult rooms, and 28 exam rooms for multidisciplinary, cancer-related disease teams dedicated to caring for patients. The radiation oncology unit, which for the first time will be in the same setting as our other outpatient services for the convenience of our patients, houses three linear accelerators, a brachytherapy vault, two CT simulators, and an additional vault for the future purchase of another linear accelerator. All levels of the building have access to natural light, including the radiation therapy suites located underground.

The new building also includes 40 infusion stations, designed in a modular pod configuration and divided onto two floors. Included in this space are 10 private treatment rooms dedicated to outpatient bone marrow transplant patients, who are typically sicker than most outpatient cancer patients and receive longer treatments. At the end of each hallway in the infusion treatment areas are small family zones with open views to the healing garden, which features several varieties of plants and flowers, a paved path, and seating to accommodate patients and their loved ones.

When the $153 million facility opens to patients in mid-July, Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute will be the first in the region to offer RapidArc radiotherapy technology, a new breakthrough in radiation treatment. Powerful radiation is delivered with extreme precision to destroy tumors, while helping to spare normal, healthy tissue. This treatment takes approximately two minutes, compared to 10 minutes or longer for conventional radiotherapy.

“The new Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute building exemplifies Penn State’s commitment to excellence in the care of patients and the creation of innovative treatments,” said Edward P. Junker III, chair, Penn State Hershey Medical Center Board of Directors. “The cutting edge facility is not only a fitting home for the superb Penn State Hershey Medical Center physicians, scientists, nurses and students who are the heart and soul of our Medical Center and College of Medicine, but also a powerful symbol of hope to patients and their families.”

This state-of-the-art facility helps position the Cancer Institute to earn a National Cancer Institute (NCI) designation -- the hallmark accreditation for academic cancer centers. Only 65 centers nationwide have the NCI distinction.

“By bringing our cancer researchers and clinicians together under one roof, we have created an environment that will support the translation of scientific discoveries into meaningful advances in patient care. By moving discovery more rapidly from the laboratory bench to the patient’s bedside, it’s not just our own patients who benefit. Cancer patients throughout Pennsylvania and beyond will benefit from the progress we are making in the fight against cancer,” said Dr. Harold L. Paz, chief executive officer of the Medical Center, senior vice president for health affairs at Penn State, and dean of the College of Medicine.

The new building also houses 64 open research lab benches and workstations on the top two floors. The research areas are connected directly to existing Penn State College of Medicine facilities by a third floor walkway to help facilitate ongoing coordination of research. The building itself was designed to encourage research collaboration between physicians and scientists by putting them in the same space, such as strategically placed offices (a melanoma researcher near a melanoma physician, both near a melanoma research lab and clinics seeing melanoma patients) and having clinical and research operations under the same roof.

One example of this improved collaboration is currently under way. A Cancer Institute scientist and physician are working together on a research study that encompasses both lab research and clinical research with postmenopausal women. This study could identify a new, safer and more effective means of inhibiting breast cancer by combining lower doses of current breast cancer drugs with a healthy diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute patients also benefit from improved collaboration, thanks to the team approach to cancer treatment. Newly diagnosed patients can see all the doctors they need in one visit and have all of their doctors working on their case in one building, discussing one treatment plan, all for the best possible patient outcome. Teams typically consist of medical, surgical and radiation oncologists, psychiatrists, pathologists, palliative care physicians, and social workers.

“Whether it’s our team approach to treatment, access to clinical research treatment options, or our goals of preventing, treating and curing cancer, our patients are central to everything we do,” said Dr. Tom Loughran Jr., director of the Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute.

  • Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute

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Last Updated November 18, 2010