Dignitaries, including Governor Bev Purdue and cancer survivor Jamie Valvano, daughter of Jim Valvano, picked up the ceremonial shovels to kick off work on the new cancer center at Duke University Medical Center.
"I'm proud as a cancer survivor and as a member of this community about this huge endeavor and how many people are going to be helped through this new hospital," Valvano said.
Duke Hospital CEO Kevin Souers says every day, about 200 cancer patients are treated there with chemo and radiation therapy, and nearly 350 to 400 patients visit the hospital's clinics. But he says over the next five years in North Carolina, they expect a 15 percent increase in new cancer cases.
In the Triangle, the number is even higher at 21 percent.
"When you couple that with the increase in people living longer with cancer, it will take a different kind of facility than we have today to serve the growing demand in our community," Souers said.
Construction is nothing new at Duke Hospital; they're adding a total of 850,000 square feet of clinical space.
The cancer center alone will be more than 25,000 square feet with 140 exam rooms and 75 infusion stations.
"They want to attack this disease and find a cure and that's a team that I want to be on to put us in the position to win against this disease," Souers said.
The cancer center will be dedicated entirely to outpatient services -for both newly diagnosed patients and for those living with the disease- all the services at the center will be centered on the patient.