The Flint-based McLaren Health Care System announced this week it would build a proton beam radiation therapy center, putting it ahead of five other systems that have battled for more than a year to be the first to build the potentially lucrative cancer center in the state.

McLaren said it would partner with Texas-based ProTom International to build the $50 million center in Flint. Officials said they are aiming for a 2010 groundbreaking and a 2012 opening.

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