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MUNSTER — Franciscan Alliance plans to build a $46 million cancer center the health system says will rival the care provided by university hospitals.

The company intends to break ground on the comprehensive cancer center this week at the Franciscan Health hospital campus in Munster.

"There isn't another cancer treatment center in Northwest Indiana that will have the capabilities this will have," said Sister Aline Shultz, chief operating officer for Franciscan Health Munster.

The 83,500-square-foot, three-story addition will include radiation oncology treatment, with two linear accelerators for radiation and oncology lab services; medical oncology-infusion therapy, with a 15-chair infusion center for chemotherapy; a full-service breast center with mammography screenings and bone density testing; and a retail center with apparel designed for cancer patients.

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Franciscan has been aggressively expanding into Munster in recent years. The announcement comes on the heels of the health system opening a $70 million, 80,000-square-foot addition that included two dozen patient rooms and a 24-7 emergency department at 701 Superior Ave., just blocks from competitor Community Hospital.

The new cancer center will also feature four state-of-the-art endoscopy suites, a pharmacy, a 50-person waiting area and physician suites.

"A lot of people go to Chicago for the kinds of services we are going to offer," Shultz said of the new facility. "We hope to keep them in Northwest Indiana. We will be offering university-scale cancer treatment here."

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Health Reporter

Giles is the health reporter for The Times, covering the business of health care as well as consumer and public health. He previously wrote about health for the Lawrence (Kansas) Journal-World. He is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.