AHN officially unveiled plans and first-look at new $80 million cancer center at Allegheny General Hospital

By: Neil Strebig

Earlier today representatives from Allegheny Health Network (AHN) and Highmark Health announced plans and the first phase of construction for the AHN Cancer Institute Academic Center at Allegheny General Hospital (AGH).

The $80 million Cancer Institute is part of a $255 million investment in cancer care and research AHN and Highmark have made in the Greater Pittsburgh area.

“Our significant investment in the AHN Cancer Institute will not only greatly enhance our patients’ and members’ access to care, but also transform it through the extraordinary work of our caregivers and the advanced capabilities of the facilities we’re developing,” said David Holmberg, president and CEO of Highmark Health in a press release.

The new 90,000-square-foot center will provide 30 new positions for healthcare professionals. It will also be one of the first of five locations in the nation to utilize MR-Iinac treatment. A new method combining an MRI scanner with a linear accelerator to help doctors and physicians quickly locate tumors and potentially developing areas of cancerous tissue.

Representatives from AHN, Highmark Health and elected officials from Allegheny County, City of Pittsburgh and the state of Pennsylvania line up for a ceremonial ‘groundbreaking.’ (from left to right) Jeffery Cohen, Mayor Peduto, David Parda, Cynthia Hundorfean, cancer patients treated at AGH, Councilwoman Darlene Harris, PA Senator Wayne Fontana, Allegheny County executive Rich Fitzgerald. Photo credit: Neil Strebig

In addition, the center will feature two state-of-the-art treatment methods: GammaPod and Gamma Knife. The GammaPod utilizes stronger and precise doses of radiation to help reduce the total number of radiation and chemotherapy treatments needed for an early-stage breast cancer patient; the average patient undergoes 16 radiation doses, the GammaPod can be effective within one to five doses.  Similarly, the Gamma Knife uses precision to provide a non-invasive solution for brain cancers. A network of 201 beams applies focused amounts of radiation to malignant and non-malignant tumors without damaging healthy tissue near the applied area.

During the ceremony, Mayor William Peduto referred to local hospitals as the “factories of the 21st Century.”

“Just like the steel mills a hundred years ago, it is symbolic of the transformation of the city,” said Mayor Peduto in regards to the medical advancements and healthcare growth within Pittsburgh.

The institute is expected to open in 2019.