Cancer Center breaks ground on expansion

October 4, 2010

The demand for cancer treatment and services at the University of Colorado Hospital (UCH) has doubled in 10 years. To address the need, UCH on the Anschutz Medical Campus broke ground Oct. 4 for an expansion of the Anschutz Cancer Pavilion. This represents a step toward treating thousands more people with cancer in Colorado and the Rocky Mountain region.

Participating in the groundbreaking were Lilly Marks, vice president for health affairs and executive vice chancellor of the Anschutz Medical Campus, Bruce Schroffel, president & CEO, UCH; Peter H. Coors, chairman of the University of Colorado Hospital Foundation and chair of MillerCoors and  Molson Coors Brewing Company; and Steve Bangert, chairman, Cancer Center Expansion Committee.

Schroffel described the cancer center expansion as “a new era in cancer treatment in Colorado and beyond.” Marks stressed the center had the “best science and best doctors in the region along with cutting edge research.”

Coors said after years of unprecedented growth a new phase was finally beginning, one that will further establish the cancer center as one of best in the nation “and probably the world.”

“When you hear the words, `You have cancer’ you want to know you can begin treatment immediately,” Coors told the crowd of doctors, nurses and journalists gathered to mark the groundbreaking. “We have seen a 99 percent growth in the number of patients seeking treatment. Over the years we have added staff, extended hours and yet we didn’t have the space to grow further. “

He said the new addition would also boost research facilities.

Bangert related his own experience with cancer. He lost his father to stomach cancer. Then his business partner was diagnosed with cancer and given just one month to live. He came to the Anschutz Medical Campus and while the doctors couldn’t cure him, they extended his life far beyond 30 days.

“There are thousands of cancer patients in this state and around the country whose lives could be saved or extended by the work done here,” Bangert said. “Life changing treatment is delivered at this facility.”

The expansion will facilitate treatment of about 11,000 more people with cancer each year. It also means the hospital will hire 200 to 250 new, full-time employees. The expansion will add more than 40,000 square feet to the cancer pavilion and includes the renovation of another 11,200 square feet.

Not only will the expansion add more room for clinical care and more physicians, it also will mean the ability to do more clinical research. Hundreds of clinical trials are underway at UCH in an ongoing effort to discover and deliver more effective treatments. The ability to expand the clinical trials program will accelerate UCH’s efforts to translate discoveries made in the laboratory to patients who will benefit from them.

Bangert said there was still a long way to go with only half of the $20 million needed for the expansion collected so far. But then Christian Anschutz came on stage and surprised everyone by announcing that his family would donate $1 million for the center. That drew instant applause from the audience.

Anschutz, son of businessman and philanthropist, Phillip Anschutz, for whose family the facilty is named noted, “I hope this will encourage others to give.”

University of Colorado Hospital sees the most complex oncology cases and helps more patients than any cancer center in the region with five-year survival rates in melanoma, breast, colorectal, lung and prostate cancers as much as 30 percent higher than state and regional averages. The cancer center also is one of only 40 comprehensive cancer centers in the country as designated by the National Cancer Institute.

The University of Colorado Hospital Foundation  (UCHF) has identified the cancer center expansion as its first priority. The project will cost $20 million dollars and private donations will be critical towards meeting that goal because the hospital receives no support from the state of Colorado. About $9 million has been raised by the cancer center expansion campaign: “When You Hear the Words, ‘You Have Cancer.”