The University of Puerto Rico’s Comprehensive Cancer Center (UPRCCC) will inaugurate its new $15 million Radiotherapy Center in November, featuring the most modern technology available in Puerto Rico for radio-oncology treatments.
This will be the first clinical service offering of the Center, which will expand significantly with the opening of its hospital next year, UPR officials announced.
“Cancer is the second cause of death among men and women in the Island. For the first time in Puerto Rico we will be able to treat this disease using a multidisciplinary approach,” said Uroyoán R. Walker-Ramos, interim president of the Cancer Center’s Board and president of the UPR.
“We will have the scientific base in the Research Center and the infrastructure and specialized personnel in the Radiotherapy Center and the new hospital. This new offering, in collaboration with the education, prevention and treatment infrastructure already in place in the island, will help us give it our all to this battle,” he said.
Located next to the Cancer Center’s Research Center, the new Radiotherapy Center comes about as part of a collaborative agreement with the Liga Puertorriqueña Contra el Cáncer. The Radiotherapy Center will feature highly specialized equipment and trained and certified radio-oncologists to administer this type of treatment. Carlos Chévere-Mouriño will serve as its medical director.
“The quality of the equipment we already have in place and the personnel we have on board will signify a more strategic, localized and effective treatment for patients. Tumors will be treated aggressively, while protecting healthy tissue and diminishing side effects,” said Chévere-Mouriño.
Hospital construction underway
Last month, the last steel beam topped off the structure that will house the Comprehensive Cancer Center Hospital of the UPR. The construction is more than half-way completed and the hospital should be ready to receive patients during the last trimester of 2016.
The 10-story, 300,000 square-foot complex will feature 96 beds, 12 of them for intensive care. It’s estimated that during its construction phase the UPR’s CCC Hospital will generate some 1,300 direct jobs and some 500 permanent jobs once it’s operational, hospital officials said.
“Our vision is to retain the local medical talent by providing the infrastructure and competitive setting needed to allow them to fully apply their specialized medical skills here on the island,” said Walker-Ramos.
“We’re also going to reach out to local and international professionals, associations and institutions that can help us be in the forefront in terms of cancer-related research, education, prevention and treatment. Together, we will be able to face this battle head on,” he added.
Currently, the facility houses a Research Center where a group of scientists from the UPR Medical Science Campus works on research programs focused on prevention, early detection and treatment of different types of cancer.
The Radiotherapy Center and Cancer Center Hospital’s clinical offerings will compliment the work being led at the Research Center to offer cancer patients a research-based, multidiscipline prevention and treatment program, the UPR official said.
“Once all components are in place, the patient’s treatment plan and their progress will be discussed and managed by a specialized team of oncologists, nurses, hematologists, radiologists, surgeons, using a multidisciplinary approach — all in one place, here in Puerto Rico,” said Walker-Ramos.
The UPRCCC has been working hand in hand with the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, one of the 25 comprehensive cancer centers in the United States designated as such by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), on the hospital’s development plans, training programs and research focused on the Hispanic population.
“Our vision is to achieve the NCI designation during the next decade. This will not only position us among the top medical cancer institutions in the United States, but will also bring us more resources and federal funds for research and treatment,” said Walker-Ramos.
The Comprehensive Cancer Center was created by Law 230 of August 26 2004 as a public corporation affiliated to the UPR and is overseen by a Board of Directors.