WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) — “Striking and unexpected.”

That’s how Wheeling Hospital’s Oncology Director describes the number of new cancer patients in the Ohio Valley.

With well over one thousand cases in the Wheeling area alone every year, WVU Medicine says the new center will reshape oncology care as we know it in the Ohio Valley.

When the building is finished, patients will no longer need to drive hours to see specialists in other cities.

Wheeling Hospital says having treatment close by will be crucial in helping patients win their battle.

Being diagnosed with cancer comes with so much. And that family support is important and kind of being close to your environment really makes people feel more comfortable…I think it will have a huge psychological impact on people.

Tina Bhatnagar, Medical Director of Hematology and Medical Oncology, WVU Medicine Wheeling Hospital

She says properly managing a cancer diagnosis requires lots of different kinds of care.

But that with a center of this size, the possibilities for services are almost limitless.

And with Wheeling becoming a new hub for medical care, many more people will travel through the Centre Market area…and see everything the Friendly City has to offer.

WVU Medicine is expecting 30,000-50,000 people to get the care they need at their new center every year.

Getting it built will take years of work…but will pay off in decades of downtown renewal.

Wheeling and Ohio County have been involved in the plans for about a year and a half now.

They’re working together to fund the demolition of the entire campus, which they hope will begin in the next six to eight months.

Even before the cancer center cuts the ribbon, you can expect to see this huge investment to change the Centre Market area as we know it.

It’s going to change the entire dynamic of this part of the city, it’s going to be a huge economic benefit for the entire Upper Ohio Valley and also provide excellent, state-of-the-art cancer care for our citizens.

Robert Herron, Wheeling City Manager

It will transform this entire section of downtown into something no one has seen in decades.

Randy Wharton, President, Ohio County Commission

Wharton says this is the largest redevelopment of any downtown Wheeling property that he’s seen in recent memory.

But there is still several months of permitting ahead before any construction crews start their work.

If you would like to hear the outline of the agreement yourself, Herron says the first public hearing of the letter of intent will take place November 3.