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$80M cancer treatment center, first of its kind in region, hits milestone

  • By Mark Gordon
  • | 8:30 a.m. June 21, 2023
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining!
Construction will continue into 2024 on the Southwest Florida Proton facility.
Construction will continue into 2024 on the Southwest Florida Proton facility.
Courtesy photo
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An $80 million project in Lee County delivering a cutting-edge cancer treatment to Southwest Florida has surpassed a significant construction milestone, with the pouring of the foundation’s final slab. 

The project, in Estero in south Lee County, is called Southwest Florida Proton. Once complete, Southwest Florida Proton, according to a statement, “will provide cancer patients with access to state-of-the-art technology, innovative cancer care and world-class radiation oncologists.” The cancer treatment center will be the first of its kind on Florida’s west coast, officials with the project add.

The project, including the purchase of complex medical equipment, construction costs and operation of the treatment center, is backed by a group of undisclosed investors. The 35,000-square-foot medical building is at 9961 Estero Oaks Drive, at the northwest corner of Estero Parkway and Three Oaks Parkway. Construction is expected to continue into 2024.

Proton therapy is an advanced form of radiation therapy that uses charged proton particles to destroy cancer cells. Protons have the unique ability to travel into a target and not beyond it, which can reduce potential side effects and complications during and after cancer treatments, the release states.

Florida is home to six of the nation’s 42 proton therapy centers. Two are in Miami, and two are in Jacksonville, while Orlando and Delray Beach are each home to one proton therapy center.

“Southwest Florida residents and visitors deserve access to every tool that we have in our cancer-fighting arsenal,” says Dr. Arie Dosoretz, a founding partner of Advocate Radiation Oncology who is helping develop Southwest Florida Proton. “This initiative will be a game-changer for cancer care in our region.”

The centerpiece of Southwest Florida Proton will be Ion Beam Application’s ProteusONE, a machine that delivers the most clinically advanced form of proton radiation therapy. In addition to diagnostic imaging capabilities, the building also will house exam rooms, administrative offices and other spaces.

At a celebration event held June 14 at Southwest Florida Proton’s future location, Dosoretz announced Lee Healthcare Holdings, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lee Health, is a project investor. Lee Health will provide a radiology suite with PET/CT and MRI capabilities. Advocate Radiation Oncology will provide physician services at Southwest Florida Proton.

“We are excited to be a part of bringing this state-of-the-art technology and forward-thinking cancer care to Southwest Florida,” Lee Health President and CEO Dr. Larry Antonucci says in the statement. “Lee Health is pleased to be able to work with such like-minded partners who are focused on establishing Southwest Florida as a destination for cutting edge, first-rate cancer care.”

According to the National Association for Proton Therapy, proton therapy is an effective treatment option for cancers of the brain and spine, breast, esophagus, head and neck, liver, lung, eye, pancreas and prostate, as well as lymphomas and soft tissue sarcomas. Studies indicate that proton therapy can be a safe option for patients that have undergone prior radiation treatment and can reduce the long-term risks of radiation in pediatric cancer patients.

“Southwest Florida Proton’s new location in Estero will expand access to a life-changing, life-saving treatment offering hope to cancer patients with the promise of improved outcomes and enhanced quality of life,” Jennifer Maggiore, executive director of the National Association for Proton Therapy, says in the release. “This is a great step forward for cancer treatment and exciting news for cancer patients in Southwest Florida and beyond.”



Mark Gordon

Mark Gordon is the managing editor of the Business Observer. He has worked for the Business Observer since 2005. He previously worked for newspapers and magazines in upstate New York, suburban Philadelphia and Jacksonville.

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