Mayo Clinic announces plans to expand proton beam therapy services in Minnesota

Published 8:00 pm Tuesday, August 17, 2021

To meet growing demand for cancer treatment, Mayo Clinic this week announced a 110,000-square-foot, $200 million expansion to the Mayo Clinic Proton Beam Therapy Program in Rochester.

“Proton radiotherapy has provided a major technological advancement in the treatment of cancer, allowing for powerful radiation therapy to precisely target cancer in a manner superior to traditional radiation therapy,” said Dr. Nadia Laack, chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

“When it opens in 2025, the expanded facility will feature two new treatment rooms, in addition to four treatment rooms currently in operation and improved access for patients requiring proton therapy,” Laack said. She said the expanded facility also will feature a single lobby and check-in desk, and offer patients receiving radiation therapy and their families a seamless experience.

The Proton Beam Therapy Program uses pencil beam scanning, which allows health care providers to deliver precise radiotherapy to cancerous tissue and lower doses of radiation to healthy tissue, subsequently reducing toxicity and negative side effects for patients receiving treatment. Laack said this highly targeted therapy is ideal for people with tumors located near or within vital organs.

“The availability of proton beam therapy allows Mayo Clinic physicians and the radiation oncology team to continuously provide innovation in cancer care, delivering individualized treatment plans for each patient,” Laack said. “Extensive research has proven that proton beam therapy is an effective therapy with the fewest side effects for patients with certain types of cancer. Mayo Clinic researchers have been involved in more than 300 papers published on proton therapy, and research is ongoing.”

“Mayo Clinic Cancer Center is thrilled by the institutional support for this essential expansion of our Proton Beam Therapy Program. As the world leader in proton beam radiation therapy and in new particle radiation therapies under development, we are committed to providing the most advanced cancer care to all of the patients we serve,” said Dr. Cheryl Willman, executive director of Mayo Clinic Cancer Programs and director of the Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The expansion will be on the east side of the Eisenberg Building and attached to the Jacobson Building. The expansion will include two floors below ground, a lobby level and a first level, and be constructed to allow for future expansion.

Site preparation is anticipated to begin in November, with projects to include the relocation of utility tunnels and pedestrian subways. Building construction is scheduled to begin in late 2022, with a goal to begin treating patients in late 2025. Existing proton beam therapy services will continue to be available during construction.

Mayo Clinic is investing $200 million in the expansion project, including construction costs, proton beam equipment and walkways. Once open, the expanded facility is anticipated to treat 900 additional patients per year and create 117 new jobs in a variety of roles.

Mayo Clinic Cancer Center is the only three-site Comprehensive Cancer Center designated by the National Cancer Institute. The proton beam facilities at Mayo Clinic in Rochester and Phoenix each house their own particle accelerator that drives protons to nearly the speed of light before delivering therapeutic radiation to a patient’s tumor. Plans are underway for Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville to add a facility where proton beam therapy and carbon ion therapy will be delivered to patients. Proton beam therapy will be available beginning in early 2026. Mayo Clinic in Florida will be the first carbon-ion treatment facility in North America, and it will open in 2027.