Kaiser center’s aim: convenient cancer care 

Kaiser Permanente will break ground Friday on a new medical center aimed at treating cancer patients and will offer cutting-edge technology for those with brain tumors.

The South San Francisco facility is the latest in a series of specialized cancer-treatment centers Kaiser has built in the state, including in Rancho Cordova in 2004, Roseville in 2005 and Santa Clara in 2006, spokeswoman Meg Walker said.

The South City facility, located at 220 Oyster Point Blvd., will be 20,000 square feet and is expected to treat 1,000 patients per year, including 200 patients with brain cancer and extra-cranial tumors.

One of the center’s primary goals is to bring cancer treatment closer to home for patients in northern San Mateo County. Currently, many county patients have to travel to the UCSF Medical Center or Sequoia Hospital in Redwood City, said South San Francisco Mayor Rich Garbarino. Kaiser Permanente’s regular clinic in South San Francisco, established in 1947, serves roughly 104,000 Kaiser members in the region, Walker said.

"There are so many people with this awful disease," Garbarino said. "You can imagine when they’re not well, and they’re fatigued, having to travel 40 minutes either way ... anything Kaiser can do to ease their suffering is a good thing."

Treating 1,000 patients at a time at the cancer center will also allow doctors and clients to participate in research that could lead to treatment breakthroughs, said Dr. Michelle Caughey, physician-in-chief of Kaiser Permanente South San Francisco.

"That will allow us to increase the knowledge of various kinds of cancers," Caughey said. "We are always evolving treatments."

In addition to traditional radiation therapy, thecenter will offer stereotactic radiosurgery, a new method of treating tumors in the brain, lungs and upper abdomen in a single session with a focused beam of radiation.

"It’s exciting to be able to do something new that’s life-saving," Caughey said. It’s unknown whether Kaiser’s facility will collaborate with local biotech firms, because those firms primarily produce internal medicines, such as chemotherapy, whereas Kaiser’s clinic will focus on radiation.

Construction on the cancer center will begin Friday; Kaiser is not disclosing anticipated construction costs, according to Caughey. The building is expected to open at the end of 2008.

The groundbreaking ceremony for Kaiser Permanente South San Francisco’s cancer treatment center will take place Friday at 10:30 a.m. at 220 Oyster Point Blvd.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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