SAN ANGELO, TX — The Shannon Cancer Center, costing just over $40 million, opened its doors for a first look into the state-of-the-art facility. Located at 131 E Beauregard Avenue, at the corner of Beauregard and Magdalen Streets, the new building significantly enhances Shannon’s cancer treatment capabilities to serve patients across the region.
Back in 2019, Shannon Health in San Angelo and Hendrick Health in Abilene (not affiliated) received approval from the State Legislature to expand their services and acquire competitors. As a result, Shannon was required to broaden its scope beyond the original mandate set by J.M. and Margaret Shannon. Following Margaret’s death in 1931, the mandate was to use the couple’s financial gift to establish a medical facility serving Tom Green County. This directive has now expanded to cover 25 counties in West Texas, thanks to the 2019 Certificate of Public Advantage (COPA) legislation. Abilene’s Hendrick Medical services was to expand in a similar number of counties north of San Angelo. The cancer center is one of several major initiatives by the Shannon Board of Trustees to live up to its commitment to improving its capabilities and reach under the COPA requirements.
Dr. Raj Cheruku, MD, a Shannon specialist in Hematology and Oncology, is leading the expansion alongside two other oncologists, David Cummings, MD, and Dr. Andrew Hall, DO. Dr. Cheruku expressed his enthusiasm about the center’s growth, highlighting the increase in chemotherapy chair stations from 14 to 28, the addition of a PET CT imaging facility, and a second CT scan system for planning — or mapping — radiology treatments. Before the center opened, Shannon relied on a traveling PET CT scan that arrived periodically in town or had to send patients to metro hospitals along the I-35 corridor or further east.
Roman Rodriguez, the center’s administrator, stated that the facility is spacious enough to accommodate more than four oncologists, and can significantly increase the staff. Dr. Cheruku posed a rhetorical question: “What’s going to attract doctors to come to San Angelo?” He answered confidently, “We are a cancer center on a growth trajectory, providing opportunities for young oncologists to influence our approach to cancer treatments, an opportunity they might not find in established facilities in larger metropolitan areas.”
Rodriguez highlighted that the center is involved in clinical research on new cancer therapies and tissue studies, allowing patients access to experimental treatments alongside traditional therapies. Shannon is not tackling cancer treatment in isolation; it is collaborating with renowned institutions such as the Mayo Clinic and UT Southwestern. The facility features a large communications room on the second floor, enabling local doctors and patients to consult with specialists from around the country, including those with expertise in rare types of cancer.
In the last year alone, Shannon treated 8,500 unique cancer patients, accounting for over 47,000 patient encounters. This included 10,000 appointments for chemotherapy, infusion, or biotherapy, and 9,000 radiation therapy treatments. Annually, more than 1,100 new cancer diagnoses are made within the Shannon service area.
Rodriguez anticipates the patient numbers will continue to rise, particularly from outlying counties south of San Angelo, which forms the core of the 25-county service area. “A patient in Ozona may now choose to come to San Angelo instead of traveling to San Antonio,” he explained.
The new center is not just about meeting current demands; it's designed with the future in mind. Rodriguez, who transferred to San Angelo from Baylor Scott & White in Waxahachie, emphasized the building’s adaptability, stating, “Treatments are evolving rapidly, and we can’t predict the new science or technology that will be available in five, 10, or 15 years. However, this new facility is designed to adapt and evolve as needed.”
The public is invited to the grand opening of the new Shannon Cancer Center on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023, from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. Shannon Cancer Center staff will be on hand during the event to provide tours and answer questions. Hors d'oeuvres and drinks will be served. Parking will be available in the adjacent parking garage or in the lot in front of the building.