Duke completes acquisition of Wake cancer facilities

Duke Medicine has completed its acquisition and rebranding of cancer specialty practices in Wake County as the Durham health care system expands operations eastward through the Triangle.

The Duke specialty practices had been part of Cancer Centers of North Carolina, formerly the largest private cancer clinic in the state. When CCNC broke up this summer, Duke acquired the facilities and hired many of the doctors, but some CCNC doctors opted for jobs with Duke's regional rival, Rex Hospital.

The offices are now called Duke Cancer Center Macon Pond, Duke Cancer Center Cary, and Duke Cancer Center Cary Radiation Oncology; they employ 10 cancer specialists, nine of whom came with the facilities and equipment from the defunct CCNC, Duke Medicine announced Monday.

The Duke Cancer Center Macon Pond and Duke Cancer Center Cary Radiation Oncology facilities include linear accelerators to provide radiation therapy treatments. The equipment can cost upwards of $3.5 million and requires state regulatory approval to purchase and install, but Duke was able to bypass the contentious certificate-of-need process by buying the CCNC practice.

At its peak, CCNC employed 19 physicians and more than 130 people. The practice's demise brings nearly all cancer care in the Triangle under the control of large hospital systems whose doctors will often refer patients to Duke's cancer specialists for CT scans, lab work, X-rays and other services.

As CCNC received fewer referrals and revenue declined in recent years, three cancer doctors defected to Rex Hematology Oncology Associates this summer, precipitating the breakup of the practice and Duke's bid to consolidate its presence in Wake County.

Cancer Centers was an attractive investment because it owned two radiation machines – one in Raleigh and one in Cary – and also had a state permit to add a third linear accelerator to serve Wake, Harnett and Franklin counties. Duke previously only had one radiation machine in Raleigh, while Rex had six accelerators in the Triangle.