April 6, 1996
Cancer center director meeting the challenge of busy schedule
By Nicole Ponder
Courier staff

His average work day is 16 hours and 50 patients long.
With a pressing schedule and an ever-ringing office phone, Robert Behar maintains a soft-spoken image as medical director of the recently of opened Conroe Regional Cancer Center.

Behar came to Texas three years ago from Florida to establish a cancer center in the Houston area. After getting two such centers off the ground, he was contacted by the Conroe Regional medical Center regarding a cancer center here.

"Some of these patients were not getting cancer care," Behar said of his clients, "because they were living in outlying areas and could not tolerate long drive."

Behar said hospital officials are pleasantly surprised by the number of patients at the center and are evaluating the purchase of additional equipment, such as a second linear accelerator, a $1 million device for radiation treatment.

Although the cancer center opened a month ago, Behar said he has been working on the center for about six months.

Describing his day as "non-stop patients and administration," Behar, who at age 6 proclaimed he was going to be a doctor, seems to thoroughly enjoy his work.

Fluent in Spanish, Behar was admitted into medical school in Chicago, Ill. At age 16 and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree at age 19.

His patients are mostly adults. Some are elderly, and some travel from areas such as Livingston and Huntsville.

"If we were to work around the clock," he said, "there probably wouldn't be (a maximum patient's capacity). Right now we're seeing about 50 patients a day."

"With the advances I've seen, (cancer) is no longer a dismal prognosis," he said. "Cancer as we know it is no longer a death sentence."

Before the center opened, Behar spends much of his time traveling to other cancer centers in the area.

He is a graduate of the University of Chicago Medical School, when he became interested in cancer research.

Before relocating to Houston, Behar was director of Brach therapy of Memorial Regional Cancer Center in Hollywood, Fla.

His areas of interest include Brachytherapy, Hodgkins disease, prostate cancer and brain tumors. He has published papers in journals such as Surgery Cancer and International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology & Physics.

The cancer center is a 11,000-square foot facility located within a $36 million expansion at Conroe Regional Medical Center.