WRAL Investigates

Prostate Cancer Center pits doctors against UNC

Posted September 27, 2010

WRAL Investigates

— Prostate cancer is the most diagnosed cancer among men and is the second-leading killer. Yet, a proposal to build a prostate cancer treatment center in Raleigh has pitted a small group of doctors against UNC Health Care, one of the state's largest health care providers.

Worried about the lack of education, screening and treatment, Khoudary and Cary Urology hatched a mission to reach under-served black men in eastern North Carolina. Along with free screenings and outreach, they proposed a Prostate Cancer Center, a one-stop shop for everything from diagnosis to treatment options to follow-up.

Khoudary said his efforts started after he opened an office in Sampson County.

“(I was) shocked. It seemed every other patient had prostate cancer,” he said.

Across North Carolina, one in four black men is diagnosed with prostate cancer – that’s 66 percent more likely than white men – and black men are three times more likely to die from it.

Herman Thomas, 69, is one of Khoudary's survivors. The former Shaw University vice chancellor wrote a faithful journal about his battle with prostate cancer. Unlike many black men, he was screened by his doctor and caught it early.

“If I had not been given a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) exam, it would have gone on and on, and I would have never known it,” Thomas said.

A key component of Khoudary’s and Cary Urology’s plan was putting the Prostate Cancer Center near WakeMed in southeast Raleigh, convenient to a large population of black men.

“Location matters, (and) access to care matters,” said Dr. James Smith, who leads the Minority Prostate Cancer Awareness Action Team, which backed the proposal.

But the road to the goal soon got rocky.

North Carolina Cancer Hospital Prostate Cancer Center pits doctors against UNC

UNC Health Care started writing letters opposing the center, calling a single-organ cancer effort unnecessary. Then UNC filed a competing application for the state-required Certificate of Need.

One of the prizes of winning is the right operate a multimillion-dollar linear accelerator. It's a high-tech radiation treatment that can generate a lot of money for a medical practice.

Despite UNC's prominence, the state picked Khoudary's focus on minority care, but the fight wasn't over. UNC, which runs Rex Hospital, filed suit.

“There are powers here I can't control,” Khoudary said. “It's a battleground, and they want control.”

After a lengthy case in the Office of Administrative Hearings, a judge again ruled against UNC, saying the health system's primary focus was competition. Citing litigation, UNC declined to comment to WRAL News.

So far, the fight has delayed the prostate cancer center by about a year. Continued litigation could delay the effort by another 18 months or more.

“Do it in a cooperative and supportive manner and not in terms of competition. Health, for me, is not competition. Health is about living,” Thomas said.

“How many more people will have a negative consequence because of it? It's a health care thing. We're trying to help people,” Khoudary added.

The Department of Health and Human Services is now evaluating the Prostate Cancer Center.


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  • tonto Sep 28, 2010

    My Mom died 3yrs. ago at the GREAT UNC Hosp. monopoly from cancer but not before they used her as a guinea pig, OD'd her on morphine & failed to keep her from forming blood clots in her legs & develop a major infection in her jaws. I watched her hang on for 2+ hrs.after they removed the c-pac helping her breath,when she died I did too.I just got a call a few hrs. ago the a friend,no more like a family member died last night of lung cancer.If I don't write this to great it's because I'm crying & so disgusted with the mighty UNC,the school I graduated from but I never got a job because I wasn't born perfect,rare bone condition,they call it an orphan disease which means that now that I'm almost 52 NO REAL progress has been made in stopping it or even diagnosing it before birth.I guess the Dr.'s at UNC didn't watch "Stand up Against Cancer" the arrogance of you people make me sick & you aren't half as good as your inflated egos think you are!I'm ashamed of you & that I graduated from UNC!

  • DizzyDaphnee Sep 28, 2010

    and the pathetic unending encroachment of UNC to control. And then people SUPPORT them when they really don't support people. Ludicrous.

  • RaleighPirate Sep 28, 2010

    As the son of a prostate cancer survivor and a North Carolina resident this is embarrassing. Are they not making enough money at UNC Health Care? This is ridiculous. I wonder how their mission statement covers this aspect of health care and services for North Carolinians. The almighty dollar supersedes the health of others as well as common sense.

    Take these two quotes to heart:

    “Do it in a cooperative and supportive manner and not in terms of competition. Health, for me, is not competition. Health is about living,” Thomas said.

    “How many more people will have a negative consequence because of it? It's a health care thing. We're trying to help people,” Khoudary added.

    This is deplorable! UNC Health Care should be ashamed of itself.

  • applesmith Sep 28, 2010

    "ian3141", Tell my father that. He is a cancer survivor and had it not been for this test he would not be here. That being said. I do not take stock in reports or what a think tank has to say. After all reports can be bias. Think if you took a survey of people who had the test and are surviors of cancer that it would far out way any govermental report!!!!

  • mikey64 Sep 28, 2010

    As a prostate cancer survivor, I am grateful for the PSA test. My cancer wouldn't have been discovered without it. The test is not 100% accurate in detecting cancer, but it is about the only thing physicians have right not, other than the "Moon River" rectal exam. I'm pretty sure I'm alive today because of the PSA test. If your doctor recommends it, get 'er done.

  • ian3141 Sep 28, 2010

    Prostate cancer screening (PSA and/or digital exam) does not save lives. It does generate money, which is what this is really about.


    "The existing evidence from randomised controlled trials does not support the routine use of screening for prostate cancer with prostate specific antigen with or without digital rectal examination."

  • Iconoclast Sep 28, 2010

    cbax3030, the propsed center is not for blacks only, but is planned for an area that would attract black patients who are an underserved group. No one would be turned away because of race, it's a matter of trying to serve a segment of the population that has been overlooked. But rest assured that anyone who needs treatment would be treated.

  • 68_dodge_polara Sep 28, 2010

    "Why is UNC running a business that competes with the private sector in the first place?"

    Actually timbo it's against the law for UNC to directly compete with a private business in North Carolina but UNC routinely ignores this law. This is even much worse as they are suing to prevent a private business from competing with them no matter what the cost of lives might be. This reminds me that the state of North Carolina is also trying to steal the hydro-electric Dams from Alcoa so they can profit from an private company's investment. UNC TV has produced bias information against Alcoa but while remaining mum on UNC trying to prevent black men from obtaining need medical treatment.

    In general, the Umstead Act prohibits North Carolina government agencies from competing with the private commercial activities of North Carolina citizens.

  • WXYZ Sep 28, 2010

    Hmmm....very interesting, but not very unusual. A moral question arises: is it ethical for someone who is not a licensed, practicing health care professional, (e.g. administrators, board of directors, stock holders, advertizing and marketing people, lawyers, government employees) to profit from the work of said professionals? Which stands on higher ethics: for profit hospitals or nonprofit hospitals? Should practicing licensed health care professionals be fairly compensated for their work? Is it ethical for health care profesionals to compete with one another or should they be required/allowed to freely communicate, collaborate and cooperate with one another so as to provide the highest possible level of expertise toward solving a patient's health problems? Which is more ethical: for profit health insurance or not-for-profit health insurance? Is it ethical to deny someone the opportunity for self-employment?

  • cbax3030 Sep 28, 2010

    I am fine with it but why for black only? What if I want to go there? Imagine if there was a white only treatment center!