Mayo Clinic opens new proton beam cancer therapy center

Mayo officials will celebrate the completion of the clinic's proton beam cancer therapy center today.

The new center features a cancer treatment called pencil beam scanning. Mayo's Radiation Oncology chair Robert Foote said it's a more precise form of proton therapy that allows for greater control over radiation doses.

"The proton beam is more targeted. We can put the proton beam right in the tumor and minimize the collateral damage so certainly a young patient with some type of a solid tumor in their body, we would prioritize," said Foote.

The four-room Rochester location cost approximately $180 million. Doctors anticipate treating the first patient in June, when two of the four treatment rooms open. A third room will open in December and the fourth next spring.

Foote estimates it will take five to six years for the clinic to ramp up to full capacity, at which point it will treat 138 patients each day. The program will ultimately employ about 140 new staff members, including physicians, physicists, radiation therapists and nurses.

A similar center is scheduled to open in Phoenix in 2016.

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