CMC-University and a local cancer-treatment center want to build a special facility in Charlotte to diagnose and treat prostate cancer, a leading killer among African American men.

If the facility is approved by the state, faculty and students at Johnson C. Smith University would write research reports based on the work that is done there.

CMC-University and the Radiation Oncology Centers of the Carolinas (ROCC) have proposed building the $9.2 million, 10,000-square-foot facility on the CMC-University campus near UNC Charlotte.

CMC-University is part of Carolinas HealthCare System.

A company spokesman said the proposed facility would offer multiple treatment options for men diagnosed with prostate cancer. Patients seeking advice on various treatments currently must go to several locations, he said.

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among American men, behind only lung cancer. Each year approximately 200,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer, which causes some 30,000 deaths annually. The incidence of prostate cancer is highest among African-American males, who also tend to have less access to early screening procedures.

CMC-University and ROCC have filed a certificate of need (CON) with the state of North Carolina. Approval is required because the facility would use a linear accelerator, a piece of radiology equipment that can be acquired and placed only with state approval.

Charlotte is competing with several other locations to build the facility, and the state has indicated it would approve only one linear accelerator for such a project.

Dr. Tim Gajewski, a physician with Urology Specialists of the Carolinas who treats patients at CMC-University, said that surgical approaches to prostate treatment would be greatly enhanced if the facility is built. The proposed center would offer new urology and medical oncology services, as well as biofeedback therapy, chemotherapy, brachytherapy, and living skills counseling and therapy.

The center would serve as a statewide demonstration project, said W. Spencer Lilly, President of CMC-University. Lilly said the hospital and its partners have a special interest in enhancing detection and treatment among African-American men.

JCSU would serve as a third-party researcher, writing reports detailing the efficacy of the project.

“This represents a great opportunity for our faculty and students,” said JCSU President Ronald Carter. “In this case, because of the ramifications for the minority community in general and African-American males specifically, the project has particular urgency. The prospect of collaborating with CHS on this project amplifies my vision for the University’s Smith Institute for Applied Research to enhance awareness of minority health problems and solutions.”

CMC-University and ROCC filed their certificate of need with the N.C. Division of Health Service Regulation on April 15. An answer is expected within five months. The partners have set a target date of January 2011 for the beginning of service.

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