NAMPA, Idaho — St. Luke's plans to break ground on a new cancer treatment center in Nampa this summer, a move that will allow the hospital to care for more patients in fast-growing Canyon County.

The new facility will be located adjacent to St. Luke's Nampa Medical Center off of Midland Road in north Nampa, and will more than double the size of the current cancer treatment center.

Since opening in 1991, St. Luke's Mountain States Tumor Institute has operated in the same 20,000 square foot building on Hawaii Avenue.

According to oncologists who work at MSTI Nampa, it's past time for an upgrade.

"We are experiencing higher demand for care in Nampa,which is only expected to increase with the anticipated population growth in Canyon County," Dr. Timothy Sawyer said in a statement. "Our Nampa oncologists are among the busiest at all five St. Luke's MSTI sites, and our space is simply too small."

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St. Luke's says the current facility was designed to care for about 8,300 patients a year, but they now see double that number today.

As the population of Canyon County continues to increase rapidly, so does the need for bigger - and better - cancer treatment options, officials said.

St. Luke's considered expanding the current MSTI Nampa site, but the building's footprint doesn't allow for growth, the aging building would require extensive repairs and upgrades, and the location is not central to Canyon County's population growth. Officials say renovation would have cost more than a new facility that could be designed from scratch.

The new cancer center off Midland road will be 42,000 square feet in size and will feature 15 medical oncology exam rooms versus the current six, and nine radiation oncology exam rooms rather than the current three.

The new space will also allow the hospital to offer new or expanded programs, officials said, including psychiatry, survivorship services, spiritual care, nutritional counseling, and the hospital's first-ever integrated physical therapy gym for cancer patients.

"It gives our cancer patients the latest in cancer care," Sawyer said. "They'll have more privacy and tranquility."

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The location in north Nampa will provide better access for patients in nearby communities like Caldwell, Middleton and Star.

"We will be more accessible," Sawyer said. "There are a few patients right now who have to drive to Boise to receive their cancer treatment. With a new building that has more space and technology, we can bring in more providers and take some of the pressure off the oncologists and nurses that are working extra hours to see as many patients as possible. We're going to be able to improve critical access to cancer care closer to home."

Hospital leaders say the new treatment center's proximity to the medical center will allow for more efficient and collaborative care.

The project is expected to break ground in August and open in about two years.