HAMPTON — The budget approved by state legislators Sunday includes a $510,000 cut to the Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute.
The cancer-treatment center was originally slated to receive $1 million from the state. HU President William Harvey said he's disappointed, but added that the $225 million institute can use every dollar it gets. The center, slated to open in August, is being financed through bonds and loans.
HU has been trying to get state money for the center for four years, he said. Legislators just don't get the importance of what HU is bringing to Virginia, he said. One in three Virginians will develop cancer and the Hampton Roads region leads the nation in prostate cancer deaths, he said.
There are currently seven operating proton therapy centers in the United States and four under development, according to the National Association for Proton Therapy. Harvey said five were funded by at least $10 million from their state legislatures. So far, HU has gotten about $500,000 from the state.
HU's center will treat about 2,000 patients a year who suffer from prostate, breast, lung, eye and pediatric cancers. It uses proton beam therapy, which is billed as a painless noninvasive procedure that directly targets tumors without affecting the surrounding healthy tissue.
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