Huntsman Cancer Institute breaks ground for first proton therapy center

SALT LAKE CITY — Officials at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah (U of U) broke ground on a project that will house the region’s first proton therapy center.

The center will be named in honor of United States Senator Orrin Hatch, who is retiring at the end of this year.

Cancer patients and leaders from HCI and the U of U joined together Tuesday to celebrate the groundbreaking.

The new building will be an addition to the south end of the HCI hospital. It will provide proton therapy, a type of cancer treatment that “beams” radiation to shrink a tumor.

A press release made by HCI stated that the center will be 7,450 square-feet and will cost $31 million to build.

“Senator Hatch has been a steadfast supporter of Huntsman Cancer Institute since day one,” said Peter Huntsman, chairman and CEO of HCF. “Senator Hatch’s support completely changed the landscape for cancer care in our region. Thus, we think it is most fitting to name in his honor this new center that will provide a critical new resource to patients in our region.”

The current closest proton center to Utah is located in southern Arizona and southern California, HCI said.

“This new treatment space is essential to HCI’s continuing commitment to serve cancer patients and provide them access to the most state-of-the-art care,” said  Mary Beckerle, PhD, HCI CEO. “As we take this major step forward for cancer patients in the region, we also reflect on the incredible commitment of people like the Huntsman family and Senator Hatch who have been dedicated advocates for people affected by cancer.”