Mayo Clinic expands - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

By Fanna Haile-Selassie

Mayo Clinic expands

Rochester, MN (KTTC-DT) --

Mayo Clinic is expanding in a big way. It's investing about $370 million in two new cancer treatment centers. One of them will be built right here in Rochester.

Mayo plans on building the new Proton Beam Therapy Program right behind its Methodist hospital. Officials say their cancer therapy Program will be the largest one in the country.

The announcement was so big, Mayo officials did it simultaneously via satellite in Arizona. Mayo is expanding its operations. With 20,000 new cancer patients every year, Mayo officials say they've been researching a cancer treatment technology called Pencil Beam Scanning for the past 6 years. Now they want to bring the service to their patients in Minnesota and Arizona.

"Of the existing Proton Beam Therapy Centers in the United States, only one uses Pencil Beam Scanning in clinical use. All 8 treatment rooms in Mayo Clinic's two facilities will feature Pencil Beam," says Mayo Clinic CEO Dr. John Noseworthy.

"With Pencil Beam Scanning, we can focus the radiation dose down to a thin beam. A beam the size of a pencil."

Mayo says this technology is less harmful to cancer patients since the focused beam reduces the harm to surrounding healthy tissue.

"This is especially important in children, where the effects of radiation treatment on developing organs can have significant long-term consequences as the child grows into adulthood," explains Dr. Robert Foote, Mayo's Radiation Oncology department chair.

Now, downtown Rochester will soon add another building to its skyline. What's now a parking lot will end up being a 3-story, state-of-the-art cancer center. And local leaders say that could be a big boom for the downtown.

"It's absolutely outstanding for the community. 500 new jobs, $190 million project, it just shows what a true community employer the Mayo Clinic really is," exclaims Rochester city council president Dennis Hanson.

The 500 jobs will come through immediate construction of the building. Roughly 130 new jobs will come once the center is opened.

Mayo officials say most insurance companies and Medicare will cover this kind of treatment. Construction of the buildings should happen sometime in the middle of next year, and possibly start treating patients around the end of 2014.

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