Longtime Mayo patient and philanthropist Richard O. Jacobson has given $100 million — the largest outright gift in Mayo's history — to help establish the Mayo Clinic Proton Beam Therapy Program.
Mayo's Proton Beam Therapy Program will include new facilities on both the Rochester, Minn., and Phoenix, Ariz., campuses. The Rochester building will be named in Mr. Jacobson's honor.
"I trust Mayo to do work that truly matters," says Mr. Jacobson. "I feel fortunate to help with this new endeavor that will provide innovative treatment for patients with cancer."
"What a profound demonstration of trust and passion for Mayo Clinic," says John Noseworthy, M.D.
The Proton Beam Therapy Program is part of Mayo's national three-site cancer center in Minnesota, Arizona and Florida.
"Our goal is to reduce the burden of cancer for patients and family members," says Robert Foote, M.D., chair of Mayo Clinic's Department of Radiation Oncology. "We want to preserve normal organ function and optimize patients' quality and length of life."
The program will use intensity-modulated proton beam therapy — specifically, pencil beam scanning — which offers a more precise form of proton beam therapy for greater control over radiation doses, shorter treatment times, longer survival and fewer side effects.
Radiation delivered through protons (the elementary particles found in atoms) is more targeted and precise than radiation from conventional X-ray beams. X-ray beams pass through the body depositing radiation to organs and tissues prior to entering a cancerous tumor and after exiting it. Proton beams can be delivered to a cancerous tumor with sub-millimeter accuracy. This targeted approach spares the tissue and organs that surround a tumor, and can therefore be used at higher therapeutic doses.
When indicated, proton beam therapy can prevent serious side effects, such as organ and tissue damage, as well as future development of secondary cancers caused by X-ray radiation. For some cancer patients, proton bean therapy may provide longer survival rates because radiation dosages can be increased more safely.
Because the proton beam can be adjusted precisely to the size and shape of a tumor, it is especially effective for treating children with anatomically complex tumors, located adjacent to critically sensitive organs such as the brain, eyes, spinal cord, lungs, heart, liver, bowel and kidneys.
"Children with cancer suffer the greatest long term harm from conventional X-ray therapy since their organs are still developing," says Dr. Foote. Some delayed effects of X-ray therapy in children include arrested bone growth, low IQ, hearing loss, hypothyroidism, secondary cancers and coronary artery disease.
An estimated 1,240 patients annually will be treated with proton beam therapy in the Richard O. Jacobson Building in Rochester, Minn., and about 2,480 patients when both the Rochester and Phoenix, Ariz., facilities are fully operational by early 2016.
"Mr. Jacobson's awe-inspiring generosity will benefit adults and children from all walks of life," says Dr. Noseworthy.
Among the patients expected to be treated at Mayo Clinic's proton beam therapy centers are:
All patients receiving proton therapy treatments will be part of a patient registry that will allow Mayo Clinic to track these patients prospectively into the future, determine which gain the most benefit and incorporate these findings into new care models and services for cancer patients.