Mayo Completes State-Of-Art “Proton Beam” Facility

Mayo Completes State-Of-Art “Proton Beam” Facility

Mayo Clinic's physicians, scientists, and technicians will now spend roughly 15 months calibrating and testing equipment before opening the doors to patients.

Mayo Clinic, which previously announced plans to invest more than $370 million in two proton beam facilities, has completed construction of its Rochester facility and will open it to patients next summer.

Proton beam therapy is a type of radiotherapy used to treat cancer, and the new Rochester facility will serve the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center. In addition to the new Rochester building, Mayo is also adding a proton beam facility in Arizona; that one is expected to open to patients in early 2016.

Mayo said it is investing roughly $185 million in each facility. Each one will contain four, three-story “treatment rooms” and is expected to treat roughly 138 patients daily. That equates to roughly 1,240 patients each year, Mayo said.

Unlike x-rays, which use “photons,” the therapy that will be performed at Mayo’s new facilities use protons, the positively charged parts of an atom, which are generated by a particle accelerator. Proton beams can be more finely controlled, resulting in higher doses of radiation being delivered directly to tumors, Mayo said.

Mayo also said its new facilities will focus on a type of proton beam therapy that uses “pencil beam scanning,” which it describes as superior to alternative treatments because the beam conforms more closely to the tumor. (Learn more here.)

Mayo said that children with cancer stand to benefit the most from proton beam therapy, because such children typically experience the greatest long-term harm from traditional x-ray therapy.

In 2011, Mayo received a $100 million donation from philanthropist and longtime patient Richard O. Jacobson to help fund the new cancer treatment facilities; at the time, Mayo described the generous gift as its largest-ever donation from a living person.

Construction of the Rochester building that houses the new proton beam therapy program—and which has been named the Richard O. Jacobson Building—was recently finished, and Mayo physicians, scientists, and technicians will now spend roughly 15 months calibrating and testing equipment.

When Mayo unveiled plans for its multibillion-dollar “Destination Medical Center” project last year, a spokesperson told Twin Cities Business that the proton beam facilities were a key part of the $3.5 billion that Mayo would invest to expand its operations.

Mayo officials hosted tours of the new Rochester building for the media on Tuesday and distributed some videos that offer a look inside the facility.

For example, here’s an animation that illustrates the various parts of the proton beam facility and explains how it works:

Mayo also shared a video that shows time-lapse footage of the facility’s construction.

Mayo Clinic recently announced that its 2013 net operating income, or earnings from ongoing activities, rose about 55 percent to $612 million. And TCB recently spoke with President and CEO John Noseworthy about the future of health care, among other things. View the video interviews here.