Ascension St. Vincent expands Indianapolis cancer center

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Ascension St. Vincent is expanding its cancer care center on its West 86th Street campus to install a new piece of equipment that will treat patients who need radiation therapy.

The Indianapolis-based health system said it plans to expand its cancer care building by about 3,700 square feet to make room for a third medical linear accelerator. The technology delivers high-energy waves or particles to destroy cancer cells. The expansion does not include any new treatment areas.

The Metropolitan Development Commission approved the health system’s application for the project last week. The project calls for updated landscaping, signs, additional parking and other site improvements. The expansion will take place at 8301 Harcourt Road, on the eastern side of the campus. The Nora-Northside Community Council said it did not object to the project.

A hospital spokesman said the project will be completed next summer. He did not give a price for the accelerator or the expansion project.

Health systems spend enormous amounts of money on new technology to diagnose and treat cancer. But, in their marketing materials, they often stress hands-on care to reassure frightened patients.

Ascension St. Vincent, for example, says its center on Harcourt Road “is a serene and thoughtful place to be treated and healed,” according to its website. It also describes the building in soothing tones: “Tucked next to the lobby and the calming sound of a waterfall is a chapel and private consultation rooms.”

Cancer care is a fast-growing and competitive medical specialty, with many providers rushing to expand facilities in recent years.

Two years ago, Community Health Network opened a 104,000-square-foot cancer center at 7979 N. Shadeland Ave.. The $60 million building replaced a smaller, 27-year-old cancer center nearby that had become crowded and outdated. The new center has two linear accelerators. In the previous three years, the health system opened a cancer center at its Community Health South campus, and expanded cancer centers at three other campuses.

And Indiana University Health is getting ready to open a new cancer center in Carmel. The two-story, 88,000-square-foot building is being built on the IU Health North Hospital campus, just south of the hospital building, in an area previously used for parking and green space. The center, with a $55 million price tag, is scheduled to open in January, offering a wide range of care, including radiation and chemotherapy infusions.

IU Health’s largest cancer center is downtown, a 405,000-square-foot facility at the Simon Cancer Center, which operates as a partnership between the health system and the Indiana University School of Medicine.

Cancer is a big business, ringing up about $100 billion a year worldwide in treatments, according to the World Health Organization. The disease kills more than 8 million people a year worldwide, and is one of the leading causes of death and morbidity, with about 14 million new cases a year.

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