$100 million cancer treatment center, 60 jobs coming to New Orleans

A Tennessee-based health care company plans to develop a $100 million cancer treatment center in New Orleans, Greater New Orleans Inc. announced Friday (April 21). The 30,000-square-foot space, to be called the Louisiana Proton Therapy Center, will be housed within the University Medical Center campus on Canal Street and provide an alternative to radiation therapy for cancer patients.

Provision Healthcare, a cancer care firm based in Knoxville, partnered on the project with UMC, LCMC Health and LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans. GNO Inc. estimates that the new center will create 60 new direct jobs with an average salary of around $100,000, plus another 63 new indirect jobs.

The groundbreaking is scheduled for the end of 2017. Provision Healthcare expects the center will begin seeing patients by late 2019.

“Every year, nearly 2 million Americans are diagnosed with cancer, and they frequently face life-threatening consequences,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a statement. “Of these patients, several hundred thousand are good candidates for proton therapy and would greatly benefit from these innovative treatments. Yet fewer than 10 percent of those patients can now be served by existing proton therapy centers”

Proton therapy is a form of radiation that uses protons – subatomic particles with a positive electrical charge – to specifically target cancer cells. Conventional radiation has proven to control many cancers, but physicians’ inability to train radiation rays directly on the cancer itself means healthy tissue is often damaged in the process.

To recruit the center to New Orleans, Louisiana Economic Development offered Provision an incentive package that includes a $1 million performance-based grant.

“Cancer incidence and mortality rates among men and women in Louisiana are worse than the national rates for all cancers combined, and cancer remains the second-leading cause of death here,” Dr. Larry Hollier, chancellor of LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans, said in a statement.

“In putting this innovative technology to work for our patients, we hope to make great strides in reducing those stark statistics and greatly improve both their quantity and quality of life,” he said.

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